Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Strawberry Coffee Cake

We went strawberry picking last weekend at Connors Farm so I wanted to find a recipe that would use a lot of them, since we returned with several pints. Initially I was looking for strawberry breads, but came across a few versions of this strawberry coffee cake recipe on some other blogs and recipe sites and was immediately hooked. It has almost everything I like in a recipe -- it’s easy, yummy, and something my daughter can help me make. Of course, it’s loaded with fat and sugar and it’s pretty much impossible to have just one slice, but that’s just is proof that you can’t have everything.

The crumble topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cold butter

Mix the flour and sugar together and put the stick of butter in the bowl. Mush the butter with your fingers into the flour and sugar until it’s separated into pea-sized bits. If your three-year-old is anything like mine this is the sort of task that he or she will desperately want to help with but not be remotely good at, so do it when they aren’t looking.
Refrigerate until needed.

The cake:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 cups of strawberries, trimmed of leaves and cut in half

Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry, mixing with a spoon or hand mixer.
Pour the batter into a greased 13 by 9 pan. Lay the strawberry halves on top of the batter and cover them with the crumble topping. (This is a better job job for preschoolers who want to help)
Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes. Just smelling it cook you’ll know you have something good on your hands.
When it’s finished you’ll find that the cut fruit will have melted into pools of liquid strawberry yumminess and that the cinnamon flavor is really highlighted -- my one regret is that I didn’t have really good cinnamon on hand, just some random supermarket stuff. That’s a mistake I’ll rectify the next time I make this because I think some high quality cinnamon is the one improvement my version of this cake needed.
We ate this coffee cake as a summer evening dessert since I didn’t get my act together to make it in the morning but it would also be excellent (maybe even better) for brunch. Eat it warm or cooled, your preference. I served it with whipped cream but that’s not even necessary.
The recipe is pretty simple and foolproof, and parts of it (like the topping) can be made in advance. I also think this cake would work well with other kinds of fruit -- I can’t wait to try it with raspberries later in the summer, and my husband thought peaches would be great in the cake as well. This recipe is a wonderful find if your family likes picking fresh fruit in the summer as much as mine does.

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