Tuesday 19 July 2011


Our computer has died. Maybe. There's a grey screen and a no entry symbol. We're not sure what it's doing but we know it isn't good. And, in the midst of googling 'mac grey screen', this morning I realised that if I didn't write about this cake now and waited until we have visited the genius bar and handed over wodges of cash for aforementioned genius to fix the computer and return it to us with everything intact and no harm done (that's how it works, right?) then there was probably no point until I could try it with different berries or until strawberries come back and if I wait that long I think we all know that you will never hear about it so all that to say that I can manage a post but not photos, for those you'll have to look at the original recipe and trust me when I say that a slice of this cake with topped with double cream is a very pretty thing.

The day we got home from holiday (two weeks ago now, sigh) I spoke to Mum, we chatted about what we had done and what they had done and she asked me whether we had plans for my birthday, for turning 32. I would be taking the day off but as Chris needed to work I had planned a quiet day. Maybe a manicure, maybe a film. The next morning, as I tried to keep my eyes open at work, Mum texted to say was I still free, was I sure we hadn't made plans, did I think it would be a good idea for her to fly up the day before my birthday and stay until the day after, could she stay at our flat. Obviously I said yes, yes, yes and, of course, yes.

After a Saturday spent listening to thunder and watching the rain I woke up on Sunday with a plan for dinner and a plan for pudding and headed out. Mum arrived later that afternoon and we headed to a bar for gin and tonic and a chat. We walked home and I started to make dinner, the poached chicken I have mentioned before, its soft comfort perfect for days when the raindrops bounce and the thunder has made you jump. And then there was pudding, a sweet plain cake with halved strawberries placed, cut side down, on top and sugar sprinkled over. A cake to eat plain or, as we did, dolloped with thick Jersey double cream.

Strawberry Summer Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the tin
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) caster sugar*
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

*I reduced the cup of sugar by about a tablespoon following Deb's suggestion that the cake was a little too sweet for her

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and butter a 9-inch springform cake tin (you could also use a 10-inch pie plate or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate).

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

Pour into the prepared tin and arrange the strawberries, cut side down, on top of the batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the berries.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F/165°C and bake the cake until it is golden brown on top and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let it cool in the tin on a rack. Cut into wedges and serve with cream, either lightly whipped or double and dolloped.


charlotte said...

firstly, many happy returns!
and, secondly, that's one hell of a cake.

Gemma said...

thanks charlotte and, yes, I think you would like it!