Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Hello lovely bakers. It's been awhile, hasn't it? I've been busy, out of town, and lastly, sick. I am really whiny about the sick part because usually I can kick a cold in a couple of days and this sucker has been hanging on for almost TWO WEEKS. I also think the tail-end of the sick has co-mingled with seasonal allergies, but STILL. Eating sugar irritates my already irritated throat, so I haven't been baking. I still have eggs from the dozen I bought a week and a half ago. The Kitchen Aid has been quiet. I may have forgotten how to make Italian meringue or a perfect genoise. So much time has been lost. Oh the melodrama!

So here's the cake I baked for myself for my birthday, back at end of May, when I was healthy and spry. Ah, the good ol' days.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

May 27,2011
Name of Cake: Strawberries!!
Occasion: ECL's birthday, and fresh strawberries!!
Constituents: a simple yellow cake with lots of strawberries!!

We've had a cold and rainy spring again, so when I swung by the farmer's market the day before my birthday and found fresh strawberries--organic! and from Oregon!--I did a little happy dance and bought half a flat. Strawberries are my harbinger of warm weather--I love them, enough to squat down in the dirt for hours u-picking them. But when they are already nice and picked and clean--and actually ripe, unlike the California berries that get sent up here--then I am helpless. I've bought and devoured a half-flat of strawberries every week that I've been here this season. I can't help it!

Then I spied Fressen, a stand selling gorgeous European bread, and spied a funny looking pretzel-croissant hybrid aptly named a Bavarian Croissant. I am no authority on all things Bavarian but when I lived in Munich I saw no such thing. So naturally, I had to buy one.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday, and a bavarian croissant

I ate almost a pint of strawberries on the 15 minute drive home, and when I got home, I shot some photos and then sampled the Bavarian croissant. Oh my. It had the characteristic thin crisp crust like a real pretzel, but the interior was soft, rich with butter, and a little sweet. It was like a brioche croissant! The pretzel salt on the crust was a sharp counter to the buttery sweet interior and once I finished it I couldn't wait to hunt them down at the next market and buy another one.

bavarian croissant!

I decided the strawberries needed to be baked in cake, like the cake Smitten Kitchen had posted FOUR DAYS before my birthday. People, when you see a recipe four days before your birthday and you sigh wistfully that if only there were fresh local strawberries so you could make that cake for your birthday, then the day before your birthday you find exactly what you were pining for, THE CAKE MUST BE MADE IMMEDIATELY.

And that is what I did.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday
Sprinkled with turbinado sugar

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday
I forgot the instructions said to make sure the berries were cut side down

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

Unfortunately, that is all the photos I have of the cake. So let me tell you about it: the cake is a simple yellow cake, baked in a 9 in deep dish pie plate. I want to change that as everybody kept asking me about the freakin pie I made and I had to keep reminding them that I DO NOT MAKE PIE. I also wanted to point at it and say, does that really look like a pie to you, but that would be supremely bitchy of me and one can only get away with so much on one's birthday.

As the cake bakes, the strawberries get jammy and soft and sink slightly into the batter. This is a good thing. The original recipe calls for sprinkling white sugar on the berries, but I decided turbinado would be better, which it is.

The cake was good, but I want to make it better. I want to marry it to Dorie's Swedish Almond Visitor's Cake or whatever that thing is called. I want almond flavor, and a cast iron skillet. I was technically saving this post until I could run said experiments, but as I have already whined a certain virus has mucked up my plans. Alas. You'll all just have to stay tuned, or try it for yourself and tell me all about it.


  1. Looks so delicious! The berries are beautiful. Hope you kick this cold soon.

  2. Hope you're feeling better soon. The strawberries and pretzel bread look wonderful!

    How long were you in München? I've only changed planes there, but I much prefer it over Frankfurt.


    I hope you're feeling better soon. We miss you at HCB! Cold is nasty and having one for 2 weeks is no fun. Especially not in the summer!

    Those strawberries look super yummy. We bought 2 lb last weekend (at the grocery store), but they were really tasty.

  4. You have brilliant taste...that SK cake has been top on my list of desserts to make as soon as we get some strawberries down here! If you try it with almond, do tell. I am also now very excited to try a Bavarian Croissant...I love finding new bakeries! Wish they had a storefront. Have you tried the Kouign Aman at the new Alder Street Bakery? O. M. G. If not, do it soon! If you can't get there in the morning, you need to call and have them hold one for you, because they sell out fast. I tried to make one of these last year, and it was a miserable failure. Happy to finally find someplace I can buy one! Glad you're feeling better...

  5. Phew, I'm so glad to see you back! I had already decided that if there was no post from you today I was going to send you an email and check if you were ok! <3

    That cake looks so delicious - I love how the edges are brown from the glass pie plate. I bet they were a little crispy and cookie-ish? (And no, it doesn't look like pie!) Did you find that the part of the strawberries that poked up above the cake had the sugars concentrated?

  6. Vicki, me too!

    Lois, I was in Munich for about a year, back in 1996. I've never flown into Munich--I would land in Frankfurt and take the train down to Munich. I will jump at any opportunity to take a train in Europe! Have you seen anything like the Bavarian Croissant in Poland? (Not that Poland is anywhere near Bavaria, but it is much closer than Oregon.)

    Jenn, thank you!! I miss baking with you all! Our grocery store hasn't figured out that Oregon has got good strawberries yet...they're still all imports from California. I can't figure that one out.

    Amanda, :) thanks! I can't wait to hear what you think of the cake when you try it. I will have to check out Alder Street Bakery and the Kouign Aman--I can get up early for a good pastry.

    Rauichka, you're so sweet! I realised radio silence was probably worse than a short post whining about my condition. Then I remembered I hadn't blogged about my birthday cake yet.

    I can't totally remember much about the cake, except that I thought it was rustic and homey, and could be better. The strawberries' sugars hadn't super concentrated in my cake, unlike SK's.

    THANK YOU for confirming that the cake doesn't look like pie! This is why we are friends :)

  7. Happy belated birthday!! Isn't it great to bake your own birthday cake? For 2 reasons, because you can, and because it tastes better than anything you can buy out there. It always surprises me how people frown upon baking your own bday cake. Anyway, your bday cake (not pie) looks great. I totally understand how you feel about strawberries. I just tasted the first strawberries of the season from my garden (whoo hoo!) and they are totally awesome. I hope you feel better soon. We miss your baked goodies and fun posts!! :o)

  8. Dear Lord. I made this cake and ate about 1/3 of it while it was still hot and burned my tongue on the strawberries. Then hubby came home, and now there's only half left. I took your suggestion and looked at Dorie's recipe, then added 1/2 t almond extract and 1/8 t lemon oil, since I'm too lazy to zest my own lemon. And I baked it in a skillet...don't know if that made a difference, but it is damn good. I'm interested in trying it with half barley flour like SK did...might do that next week. Oh...and even though it was in a skillet, my husband came home and said, "Hey, pie!" :) Thanks for the suggestion on kicking the flavor up a were right on!

  9. Hanaa, thank you! Now that I'm a more confident baker I really do enjoy baking my own birthday cake...and everybody else's too!

    Amanda, I also want to try it with part barley four! I'm SO excited you made the cake in a skillet with the almond and lemon flavors! Pretty funny about your husband immediately thinking pie--I guess I'm going to have to let that one go. :) Thanks for reporting back--you are awesome!

  10. Happy birthday, Gemini girl. My b'day is 5/28--when's yours? The cake looks great, but it's all those strawberries that caught my eye and made me envious.
    Hope your cold has finally bit the dust and your usual sunny disposition is back.