What happens when you have 13 people staying in your house for Thanksgiving, all of whom use Thanksgiving as the reason to cook and eat to their heart’s content? Well, besides a nonstop gorge-fest of amazing food for five straight days, we also have leftovers for days.
As a result of the two-week feasting, I definitely have a food coma hangover. I can’t possibly look at another melt-y, marshmallow-y scoop of sweet potatoes, or crisped cornbread stuffing roasted in duck fat, or deep-fried turkey leg. My dad’s chestnut braised pork belly, on the other hand — well, I could never get sick of that.
Nevertheless, we’ve been re-purposing all sorts of leftovers since Thanksgiving. Cranberry relish with fish. Turkey into sandwiches. Stuffing with fried rice (hey, it was late, and I was tired). Then I remembered over the summer I started using our squidgy strawberries for this really easy weekday strawberry cake from Martha Stewart.
You see, over the summer back in Charleston, we went kind of overboard on strawberry picking. The ones we picked on Wadmalaw Island were absolutely-freaking-perfect. Plump, deep red juicy berries were as far as the eye could see, and our kids’ little faces got swirled up in strawberry juice and dirt and sun, and it was just the best morning ever. We came home with boatloads of berries, so much so that we didn’t have time to eat them all. That’s when I remembered this cake, which a friend had recommended to me years ago when I confessed to her that every year on my birthday I still crave Duncan Hines strawberry cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles and canned strawberry frosting. My busy, working mom would spend hours the night before my class birthday celebration making those cupcakes, frosting them perfectly with a thin layer of store-brought frosting goodness, then carefully packing them into recycled dress shirt boxes lined with aluminum foil. To this day, I still can’t receive a gift in a shirt box without taking a deep whiff inside, imagining the sugary, artificial strawberry goodness that might one day lie inside it.
For those of you with very distinctive memories of a bright pink boxed mix cake, this Martha recipe is nothing of the sort. In fact, I’ve yet to find any homemade recipe that comes close to what ol’ Mr. Hines accomplished (of course, I am assuming that Duncan Hines is a jolly old baker from the 1950s and not some corporate amalgamation of generic last names). I’m also not much of a baker, so I haven’t really looked that hard, to be honest. But this cake fulfills my deep love of strawberry desserts in an altogether different way. The cake is moist but dense, with a nice saturated vanilla flavor. The strawberries, which are sliced and placed on top of the batter before baking, take on a more intensely strawberry flavor, having roasted in the oven. I like this cake because it always generates admiration from the people I serve it to, yet it’s so satisfyingly easy to make.
Okay. So I’ve jumped us back into summer. Out here in the ‘burbs, with the dreary cold weather we’ve been having, that can’t be a bad thing, right?
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the cake pan or pie plate
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1.5 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch cake pan or pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
- Put butter and ¾ cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla.
- Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
- Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.