Almost-Summer Strawberry Cake

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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After living in  South Florida for more years than I care to remember, I’ve gotten used to the subtle clues that signify the  change in seasons.  They’re hard to define, but over time one gets better at identifying them.  Some years, however, it seems like Mother Nature is downright schizophrenic.   Take this winter, for instance.   For a few days at a time, the temperature would dip down into the forties and for the next  week or two, it would spike back up to  seventy-five.    I’d leave my house in the morning wearing a cozy sweater, and by noon I’d be sweating bullets!  And, the plants and trees were confused too.   I had azalea bushes blooming in January, that were nothing more than a mass of barren, brown twigs by mid-February.

We had no real springtime this year either.   By the time St. Patrick’s Day rolled around, my weather thermometer hit eighty and never looked back.    I really missed that transition period!   But apparently, Summer was in a hurry to get here and  would not be delayed.  So, while the calendar tells us that we still have another six weeks for it to officially be summer, the weather says otherwise.

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There are few things I like about summertime in Florida.  It’s miserably hot and impossibly humid.  Even abundant sunshine becomes unpleasant under those conditions.  And, you can forget about  growing beautiful, lush  fruits and vegetables in your garden unless you plan to stand outside all day long spritzing them with a hose.   It’s just too damn hot!   But, there are a few nice things that make the heat tolerable, not the least of which is air conditioning.  By the first of May, most of the tourists have evacuated, and I can once again get into any restaurant I want without an hour and a half wait.   Another thing that I like about this time of year, is that those ripe and juicy California strawberries start lining the produce aisles in our supermarkets.

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You may have heard that Florida is considered the winter strawberry capitol of the world. From December to April, we are lucky enough to have fresh strawberries coming out of our ears. Then, for a month or two after the winter crop dries up, we’re stuck with sad little tasteless berries from Godknowswhere. That is, until those ruby-red California beauties arrive.

One of my favorite ways to use fresh strawberries is in a good old-fashioned, Southern-style strawberry shortcake.   Another thing I love to do is bake them into things like muffins and scones.  So, when I came across this recipe for a strawberry cake, I was intrigued.

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This strawberry cake is pretty simple stuff.  It’s a basic, vanilla-scented yellow cake studded with a mass of fresh berries – a full pound to be exact.   From just looking at the recipe, you probably wouldn’t  guess it would be anything very special.  But, after baking one for myself, I am here to tell you that it most definitely is – although you might not realize it right away.

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While baking, the cake kind of puffs up and envelops the strawberries, which go all melty and jammy and lusciously sweet.  They remind me a little of my roasted strawberries in that regard.   The cake itself has a soft and tender crumb, which manages to get the slightest crunch around the edges.  It’s sweet, but not cloyingly so, making it a perfect backdrop for the berries ensconced inside.   And, the cake really takes no time at all to whip up. The hardest part for me was sniffing around my oven as I waited for it to finish baking.   Then, as it sat cooling on my counter, that cake really began to draw me in.   I found myself slicing off a tiny sliver every time I walked through my kitchen.  I baked the cake early in the morning, and by mid-day it was almost half gone!   Try explaining that to hungry loved ones as you present a half-eaten cake at dinner time!

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I can see this cake being made with various other fruits as well.  I suspect that blackberries, peaches, nectarines or plums would all be wonderful.

So, while I’m sweating out the next several weeks of almost-summer, it’s nice to know that I can have this strawberry cake to give me comfort.  That, and lots and lots of ice cream!

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21 responses to Almost-Summer Strawberry Cake

  1. On May 08, 2012 at 10:15am, Suze said...

    I found this recipe last year, and OMG, my family LOVES it. And I can vouch whole-heartedly for Smitten’s suggestion to swap out half the white flour for barley flour. As she says, it adds depth and nuance to an already delicious cake! I am just waiting for the June strawberries here in the Northeast so I can make this again (and again and again).

    • On May 09, 2012 at 9:38am, Susan said...

      I’ve never used barley flour before. Will definitely have to try it next time. :)

  2. On May 08, 2012 at 10:34am, Blog is the New Black said...

    Looks simply delicious! Perfect for “almost” summer!

  3. On May 08, 2012 at 10:56am, Kristen said...

    Wow, Susan – this looks so good! I can’t wait until strawberry season. What we get in the store right now just isn’t fantastic, but it’s better than what we get in December! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. On May 08, 2012 at 11:00am, Rosa said...

    It looks marvelous! Perfect for teatime and with a dollop of cream.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. On May 08, 2012 at 12:25pm, jeanne dyson said...

    Yum! My kind of dessert nutritious AND sinful at the same time..of course adding whipped cream weights it more to the sinful side but I think I will try it anyway! How about adding some almond with the blueberries or rose water or lavender whipped cream??

    • On May 09, 2012 at 9:43am, Susan said...

      I was tempted to throw in some almond flour when I made this, but decided to try it as written first. Next time I definitely will. Lavender whipped cream sounds lovely!

  6. On May 08, 2012 at 2:26pm, Katrina said...

    This cake sounds fabulous! Yum!

  7. On May 08, 2012 at 2:41pm, Anne said...

    can you use any fruit with this???

    • On May 09, 2012 at 9:43am, Susan said...

      I think you can – and I plan to! ;)

  8. On May 08, 2012 at 3:30pm, Carol DeVirgilio said...

    I can’t wait to try this with peaches.

  9. On May 08, 2012 at 4:35pm, Karla said...

    I’m gonna make this right now! I might add some peaches too….A cake for my in-laws last day visiting Sarasota.

  10. On May 08, 2012 at 7:51pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    Susan, you must heard my moaning from New York all the way to Florida. Yesterday I bought 32 oz. of fresh strawberries. They were only $1 more than the 16 oz. container. I made a strawberry rhubarb (from the farmers market) pie. That will last 2 days at the most and now I still have all these strawberries. Whatever shall I do with them? Well, you just answered my query. Is it too decadent to make luscious desserts two days in a row?

    • On May 09, 2012 at 9:47am, Susan said...

      Haha! It is NEVER too decadent! Besides, they’re FRUIT desserts. Fruit is good for you! You can never have too much fruit! ;)

  11. On May 08, 2012 at 9:04pm, elly said...

    I love the look and sound of this cake! I can’t wait to try it.

  12. On May 09, 2012 at 4:48pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    This looks wonderful and strawberries will be coming into season locally. I keep saying I am going to bake one last dessert for my office before they kick me out for good. Maybe this will be the one. I love fruity cakes like this.

    My weather is no better than yours. A month ago the weather was dry and cloudless and in the 70s and even 80s. Then suddenly the clouds rolled in and we’ve had a month of chilly days. I had trouble getting out of bed this morning and I said to SPP, “It should NOT be too cold to get out of bed in May.” (I think there may have been an expletive in there somewhere as well.) Back in March everyone was saying, “Spring is here. It came early this year.” I said they shouldn’t count on it hanging around. We were bound to have nasty weather ahead. I think I called it well. We had such a mild winter that the weather gods are making us pay for it!

  13. On May 10, 2012 at 2:21pm, Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry said...

    Oh my gosh! LOVE the shot of the strawberries in the carton! Beautiful! This sounds perfect for my Mother’s Day Brunch! Thanks!!

  14. On May 11, 2012 at 9:38am, Moving Company said...

    Gosh, my mouth is watering badly, as just checking the close-up picts you posted for us! I am loving the idea and the strawberries are really coming into season, so it will be a perfect desert for the coming summer! I can not wait to try it out!

  15. On May 11, 2012 at 12:09pm, Angelique said...

    I made two of these this morning for my girlfriends. It was so easy and oh so delicious!!

  16. On May 12, 2012 at 6:47pm, Jenna said...

    Is it possible to use frozen fruit in this? After letting it thaw out?

  17. On June 08, 2013 at 3:10pm, Lisa Ezren said...

    This cake is wonderful! Made it 3 times already and each time it was eaten in no time!

1 pings to Almost-Summer Strawberry Cake

  1. On April 28, 2013 at 10:03pm, Strawberry Shortbread Cake | Forward Foodie pinged...

    [...] thinking a splash of almond extract might add some extra flavour, but the original, found here, is perfect just the way it [...]

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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