Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

I grew up in a city that didn’t really have seasons. The options for weather were either hot, super hot, or hot and raining. So, now that I live somewhere slightly more temperate, I relish every change of season like it is my first. When it begins to get cool in the Fall, I eagerly begin to plan everything pumpkin and spice flavored and unpack my cozy sweaters. When it gets truly cold in Winter, I am so engrossed in Christmas planning that I love the chill and the chance to snuggle up by the tree with hot chocolate. By the time Spring rolls around, I am so frozen to the core that I feel like I’m seeing the sun for the first time, and run for pastel colors and the first spring fruits. Finally, even though I no longer get summer vacation, summer still brings relaxation with pool parties, potluck BBQs, and wonderful inspiration for crisp salads because it is simply “too hot to cook”.

Seeing as how we are currently rounding out the end of spring and about to dive into summer, it’s time to start appreciating fresh fruit again. Every market and roadside stand is exploding with juicy red strawberries.  I picked up 3 pounds of berries last week and enjoyed them throughly in a huge strawberry and whipped cream chiffon cake, sliced over morning cereal, and devoured straight out of the carton.

Yesterday,  this was all that was left

One bowl of strawberries on their last legs.

So, when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen for a cake where fresh strawberries sink into buttery vanilla batter to become little gems of sweet strawberry jam, I knew what these last few berries were meant for.

Go find some ripe strawberries, or round up the last ones in the fridge and make this cake today. The ingredients are simple, butter (I used half butter and half shortening because that’s what I had, it’s still great) sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt, and of course berries.  Simple stuff that becomes such delicious cake.

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

3 tablespoons butter (softened)
3 tablespoons shortening (or more butter, if you like)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons  sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup  milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside

Cream the butter/shortening together with 1 cup of sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and milk.

Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Restrain yourself and don’t lick the beater before throwing it in the sink (don’t be like me, kids).

Pour this into a greased 9 inch spring form pan (or a 9 inch cake pan or a deep dish pie pan) and arrange the strawberries cut side down in a single layer over the batter. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons sugar. Don’t skip this! it’s what will give the top a beautiful crunch and make the berries extra sweet. Bake it in a 350F oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 325F and bake it slowly for almost an hour more until the top is golden brown and no wet batter clings to a knife inserted in the center (there will be strawberry juice, that’s ok).

Let it cool then dust some powdered sugar over the top.

Yum.

Eat it for dessert. Eat it for breakfast and tell yourself that strawberries, eggs, and milk are all part of a nutritional breakfast, I’ll agree with you.

I don’t think this cake will last long in my house.

As a note, I think this recipe makes for a great formula to use all summer long with fresh fruits. Peaches, plums, nectarines, blackberries, any ripe juicy fruit would be amazing in this cake. Enjoy!

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