Archive for April, 2010

rainy-day strawberry cake

April 20th, 2010

When it rains, strawberries go on sale at the CalAve farmers’ market! Who knew? Perfect for a pie, for most bakers. I’ve already confessed my cookie-baking phobia, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that making pie crusts aren’t yet in my repertoire. (We’ll discuss my avoidance of yeast another day. How is it that I claim to be a baker?) In my recently, very specifically filed recipe clips, I found the answer under Desserts > Fruit: strawberry cake.

Strawberry cake in a 9-inch Emile Henry pie pan.

Strawberry cake in a 9-inch Emile Henry pie pan.

Carter had decided he would rather watch a movie with Daddy than bake with Mommy, until I started making the cake around bedtime. Then, big surprise, he wanted to stay up and bake. Carter got away with it only somewhat (yes, he gets away with probably too much with me, but that’s yet another story). I let him get out of bed to arrange the strawberries on top the batter—a perfect colorful, tactile task for kids.

This strawberry cake is closer to a coffeecake or teacake than a dessert cake. It’s delicious and looked beautiful in the Emile Henry pie dish I got for a wedding present—something I didn’t registered for, but should have. Mine came from Williams Sonoma, Emile Henry also now makes a pink “Bake for the Cause” pie dish. Another confession: I had to Google to find out how to measure a pie pan. The answer is rim to rim at the widest part.

I also had to Google to find out the origin of the recipe—turns out I clipped it from the June 2005 Martha Stewart Living, so it’s nearly as old as Carter. Good thing I saved it. Better thing: I could—finally—easily find it.

Strawberry Cake

6 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for greasing pie plate
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking poweder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat over to 350˚F. Butter a 10-inch pie dish (or a 9-inch deep one).

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to cream butter and 1 cup sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture.

Transfer batter to buttered pie pan. Arrange strawberries on top of the batter, with cut sides down, as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the berries.

Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F. Bake until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into wedges to serve.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

baking with friends: lemon baby Bundts

April 12th, 2010
Hands washed, aprons on: it's baking time

Hands washed, aprons on: it's time to bake

Sonia mixing the wet ingredients for mini lemon Bundt cakes

Sonia mixing the wet ingredients for lemon Bundt cakes

On rainy days when I was a kid, all the neighborhood kids would gather around our kitchen table (big enough to seat my parents and us six kids) for my mom’s project du jour. It could be anything from copper enameling to baking chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, making candles to pouring plaster of Paris in red rubber molds.

When Carter’s friend and neighbor Sonia came over to bake with us on a rainy afternoon, I felt a bit nostalgic for those days. Sonia wore her new apron, and we made mini lemon Bundt cakes. I explained to Carter and Sonia how they could each put in a quarter cup to equal a half, and figured that pinches from two 5-year-olds equalled the called-for pinch of salt. (Baking is such a great way to teach math, without it seeming like you’re teaching math.)

We also did some experimenting. Since we were out of yogurt, we substituted sour cream and added 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. If I were Alton Brown, that could have been a science lesson.

Better than the mini lemon Bundt cakes being delicious (thanks to Nigella and four helping hands): Sonia wanting to come back and bake with us again.