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“Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high”**
“It’s too darn hot
It’s too darn hot
I’d like to sup with my baby tonight” ^
You get the point, right? No one wants to slave over a hot oven or be stuck inside when summer calls. And thanks to climate change, the world is suffering increasing heat, with temperatures reaching dangerous levels. But I do enjoy a nice dessert, especially on Shabbat.
This easy Strawberry Cake doesn’t require any special equipment – not even a mixer. It can be made with pretty much any available fruit and is good just as is. This is not a showy cake – kuchen, a simple butter cake, never is. But, it also can be dressed up with some crème fraîche, ice cream, whipped cream or simply a snow of confectioner’s sugar.
I’ve taken to making my own crème fraîche, which is easy to do, and some generally can be found in my fridge. I flavor it with vanilla and some confectioner’s sugar – not too much. Just enough. But, of course, crème fraîche is available in many grocery stores ready-made these days.
The butter and sour cream keep the cake moist. And the lightly macerated strawberries ooze their delicious juices into the cake. I macerated more strawberries than I needed to cover the top of the cake and used the leftovers when serving. The batter is lightly perfumed with freshly grated lemon zest and nutmeg, a delightful combo.
A springform pan was used for easy presentation, but the cake could also be baked in a square baking pan and served right from the pan. The original recipe called for a 9-inch round pan, but I made mine in an 8-inch round. It makes for a slightly higher cake and took a bit longer in the oven, but I was happy with the results.
Strawberry Cake (Kuchen) will keep for a few days covered. The cake will become more a bit custardy as time goes on and the fruit juices permeate the batter. My husband would say, “And this is a bad thing?” But, I would be very surprised if your cake lasted that long once people have enjoyed a taste.
For another delicious and adaptable kuchen recipe:
^ It’s Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate. Songwriter: Cole Porter
** Summertime from Porgy and Bess. Songwriters: Ira and George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 cups (334g) strawberries, sliced into 3 slices each (I made more to use as a topping when serving)
2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups (150g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (113g) sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.
Grease an 8” or 9”- inch round springform pan or an 8”- inch square. Line the bottom with parchment and lightly grease.
To make the strawberry topping
In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the salt to combine. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the cake. (Reserve remaining 1 tablespoon sugar for topping the assembled cake. I added probably another cup of strawberries, but did NOT add any additional sugar.)
To make the cake
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and nutmeg until creamy and homogenous but not necessarily light or fluffy. You can use a hand or standing mixer but if your butter is at room temperature, why create more dishes than needed?!
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed.
Add the sour cream and vanilla; beat to combine.
Add the flour mixture and beat just until everything is combined. Do not over-mix or your cake will be tough.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Distribute the strawberries over the batter in a tight, single layer, leaving behind the juices in the bowl. Save any leftover liquid and strawberry slices for snacking or for serving with the cake.
Sprinkle the cake all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar from the topping.
Bake the strawberry cake for about 1 hour or until the top is deeply golden brown. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack. Run a thin flat blade around the inside of the springform, if using, and open the spring. Remove the ring and using a spatula, lift the cake onto the cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, you can sprinkle the cake with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.
To make Homemade Crème Fraîche
In a clean glass jar, pour one cup of heavy cream (preferably with no thickeners added). Add 3 Tablespoons of any cultured milk milk product such as buttermilk, kefir or even whole milk yogurt. Leave in a dark, room temperature place, shaking the jar occasionally until desired thickness. Depending on the warmth of the room and the quality of the cream, this can take between 24 to 36 hours. Once the desired thickness is achieved, you can add a healthy teaspoon of pure vanilla bean paste and about 3 Tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Stir through and refrigerate. This will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.