Thursday, 15 May 2014

Soft Strawberry Cake

Soft strawberry cake
I had chosen another recipe for the launch of the blog. It was representative of something that I really like to eat and offer and that I make very often in different versions (I will publish the recipe very soon, and later others of the same kind).
But it took me a while to finally put my blog live and, in the meantime, I baked a delicious yet easy to prepare cake that made me change idea regarding the first recipe to publish.
We had friends at home for few days, visiting us and Dubai. When we have guest I always like to offer a breakfast with fresh fruit, juices, coffee (espresso) and home-made sweets, including one or more types of cookies and a cake or tarte. Before their arrival I had made a crostata alla marmellata (jam tarte) - I have to post that too - and we finished it all, so I wanted to prepare something else for the following morning. I had a pack of strawberries on the fridge and I didn't know how to serve them. I searched among my saved recipes and I was attracted by a Martha Stewart recipe for a strawberry cake. It was easy, fast, without a big amount of butter (there is milk instead, which I think makes the cake  so soft); and, most important of all, I had all requested ingredients available. It really inspired me and I made it, with minimal changes (less sugar and butter, as usual when I try a new dessert recipe); and I did well.
Indeed, I had a frustrating yet funny glitch on the way that made me fear I should have thrown everything in the garbage: while the cake was baking in the oven, electricity suddenly stopped. No light nor equipment worked anymore. Oh! Oh! I had completely forgotten of some works in the building announced days before. And they should have last one hour! I thought the cake was definitively lost. Since I had put it in the oven more then 30 minutes before, I left it inside even if I did not have much hope to save it. After less than 15 minutes electricity suddenly came back. Wow! In this short time probably the temperature had not decreased too much; so I baked the cake for 10 more minutes until the surface was golden and a skewer inserted in the middle came out clean (as I usually do for this kind of cakes). I had good chances the cake was good.
The final proof came the morning after. We sliced the cake, tasted and ... " it is delicious" - everybody said. My child, who is 22 months and - confused between Italian and English - doesn't speak yet except for few words, said "mmmmmmmm". I was lucky this time.
As a sign of fate I have chosen this unexpectedly good cake as the "zero birthday cake" for my blog.
And for sure I will make it again, and I will also try to use different berries or fruits: I think that blueberries and raspberries can work well but also wedged peaches or prunes. I'll be back with updates; in any case I recommend to try it.

Soft strawberry cake sliced

Soft strawberry cake
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes one 24 cm cake  
85 gr unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
180 gr all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
140 gr granulated sugar
1 large egg
125 ml milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300 - 400 gr strawberries, halved
2 tablespoons sugar for topping *
*I used unrefined cane sugar  
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line with parchment paper (or simply butter) a 23 cm baking pan (I used a spring-form pan). Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Using a whisk (or an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) mix butter and 150 gr sugar until pale and fluffy; it will take at least 5 - 6 minutes by hand (3 minutes with the electric mixer). Add the egg, milk and vanilla and incorporate. The mixture will be liquid and a little divided.; it is normal, it will turn good after adding powders,
Gradually add powders, mixing (at low speed if using electric mixer) until the batter is smooth.
Pour the mixture into the pan, level the surface and arrange halved strawberries on top, cut sides down. Don't worry if the surface is crowded with berries, they will shrink while cooking. Sprinkle the two additional tablespoon sugar evenly over strawberries.
Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C (325 °F). Bake about 45 to 50 minutes, until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool completely before removing from the pan (if using a pie plate the cake can be sliced directly in the pan).
Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, up to 2-3 days. It actually keep longer, but it's better to put it in the fridge after a couple of days because the fresh fruit contained can turn bad

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