30 June 2014

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake


I've lately been missing out on pretty much all of the June produce. Here it is, the last day of the month and gone are the rhubarb and peas and green garlic, not to be seen again until next spring. Between houseguests and June wedding season I haven't spent much time in the kitchen. This is the thing of hosting friends and family in New York, everyone wants to eat out. I can't blame them. Compared to a city full of some of the greatest chefs and restaurants in the world, how can a home cook stack up?  
Enter the snack cake. It is around all the time. It keeps for a few days. It is traditionally unfrosted. It often contains either fruit and/or nuts. It can be eaten at home during breaks in between visits to the museum and before or after dinner. It can also be wrapped up and taken along to concerts in the nearby (read: across the street) concerts in the park series. It is understated and impressive at the same time. 

I became a huge fan of the snack cake several years back while taking part in a week-long writing course in lovely Devonshire, England. Breakfast and Lunch were self serve at appointed hours. Dinner was eaten as a group and prepared by ourselves. But all day long, should you find yourself in need of extra sustenance, there was cake and tea. Each day a different cake was waiting in the kitchen. There for the taking. I thought this was wonderful, and have since endeavored to "always have cake available" whenever I have houseguests. I'm not 100% successful, but this is the goal.  
Enter the strawberry cake. I suppose this is also what people would refer to as a one bowl cake, if you don't count the bowl used for mixing together the flour and baking powder. As such, it is simple to mix together. The most time consuming part of it was placing the strawberries in a pleasing symmetrical pattern on top. The cake goes great with more strawberries, if you so desire, or any variation on cream. It's a beautiful moist attractive cake, recommended and retold by some of my favorite food bloggers along with an original recipe by Martha Stewart, doyenne of cake.
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from here, and here, and originally here

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for buttering cake pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved and sprinkled with 1 tablespoon granulates sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg, buttermilk milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. 

Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter in a single layer. Sprinkle tablespoon of sugar over berries and place cake in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 60-75 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then run a knife around edges of the cake before removing springform ring. Cut into wedges. Serve with creme fraiche, lightly whipped cream, or ice cream and extra fresh strawberries.

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