Spring has sprung in Paris – birds are singing, Parisians are out walking and drinking on the Seine, and the tulips have bloomed in my park. As beautiful as it is, I can hardly suppress the urge to ditch the city and run head over heals for the countryside, shovel and seeds in hand.
Spring also brings the first fresh produce. Artichokes and asparagus abound at the outdoor markets and the elusive spring onion is beginning to make an appearance on supermarket shelves. But my favorite sign of spring is the strawberry tarts calling my name from every pâtisserie in Paris.
This weekend, I gathered some strawberries, baked this quick cake, and headed out into the park to celebrate the coming of spring. In true spring fashion, the day was overcast with a slight chilly wind for our picnic, but that didn’t stop my friends and I from enjoying strawberry cake. It was even an excuse to have an extra slice.
Alexis ZK studies French and Food Studies at New York University. She loves travel, dinner parties, digging in the dirt, ballroom dancing, foodie adventures and creating tasting menus in the shower. She recently ran away to Paris on a mission to discover France through food.
This simple cake celebrates the taste of the strawberries. Perfect for an afternoon picnic, summer time dessert or for a special breakfast. Whipped cream and/or ice cream always make a great addition.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
scant 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons caking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch spring-form pan. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Mix together milk and vinegar. Let sit five minutes while you cream the butter and sugar.
Cream butter and sugar in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment. It should become light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Slowly add eggs, milk and extract, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Gradually add in the flour mixture in three batches, scraping in between each addition. Keep the mixture on a low speed and only mix till all the flour is incorporated (over mixing can cause your cake to be hard). Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading in an even layer.
Arrange strawberry slices, cut side down, on top of the cake. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake 10 minutes at 350°F, then reduce heat to 325°F and bake 45 more minutes, till cake is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan.
This cake stores up to two days, tightly wrapped, in the fridge. It also travels well.