There are some foods I’m not a huge fan of. I don’t say this about foods I haven’t tried, only ones I’ve tried and legitimately don’t like. It’s not typically for a lack of trying really hard to enjoy all foods, particularly ones that are good for me. Take eggplant. I’ve bought it and prepared it and eaten it, and I just can’t convince myself it’s yummy. The same goes for bell peppers. I know they’re super healthy, full of Vitamin C. I’ve tried them roasted with other vegetables and sautéed with onions. They do nothing for me. So I don’t eat these foods because life’s too short to eat foods you don’t like.
Tomatoes are growing on me. I can eat them as long as they’re in Cucumbers, Tomatoes, and Onions. Drowning them in vinegar certainly helps. But I still hate them cooked. And don’t come near me with tomato sauce of any kind. Seriously . . . I just . . . I can’t.
I’m not a big fan of strawberries either. Sure, in the dead of winter when I can’t stand the thought of another apple or pear, I’ll eat them, but they’re just okay to me. The one exception is the tiny, ruby red local strawberries that make a brief appearance each June. Mom, Dad, and I went to a local orchard about thirty minutes from our house last weekend to get some. They’re the only place where you don’t have to pick them yourself. That’s my favorite part, because I’m not interested in picking my own. It was really nice to drive there and pick up some fresh fruit. A good family outing. We got home and washed them. I went in for a taste of the berries I’d been craving since the previous summer. But they weren’t sweet . . . at all. Not good eats. So I decided to bake with them.
The strawberries may not have been stars on their own, but in this Strawberry Crumb Cake I couldn’t get enough of them. This cake is easy to put together and seriously tasty. The jam-like strawberries are on the bottom, sweet and coated in thick juice. They are covered with moist vanilla cake, which is topped with a perfect cinnamon crumb. The components are great separately and even better together. I couldn’t get enough of it warm, but it’s also great cold with that almost ice cream cake thing going for it. So celebrate summer and strawberry season with this cake. I promise you’ll like it.
4 cups strawberries, hulled, halve big ones
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ¼ tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 ¼ tablespoons water
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch mixture in 8 inch square baking dish. Stir to combine and let sit while you prepare the topping and cake.
Make the topping. In a medium bowl combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter with your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse meal and all ingredients are well distributed.
Make the cake. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work too. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until once again light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the almond milk. Add the dry ingredients in three installments and the milk in two.
Pour the cake batter over the strawberries, covering them as entirely as possible. Top with the crumb topping. It should cover most of the cake. Place the baking pan on a sheet tray as it will probably bubble over during baking. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the cake is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
Cake may be served immediately, at room temperature or cold. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, covered.
Recipe adapted from Gerard Craft, courtesy of Food and Wine