Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake…

I’ve just been loving how plentiful the strawberries are this year. And the quality of them has been outstanding. I love to bake with strawberries, but they can be tricky. Strawberries, like blueberries, have what I call the exploding factor. They explode moisture during the baking process. So, if you use too many of them or if they overly ripe you cake will fall it on itself. After a few disasters I’ve learned out to outsmart the pesky fruit and now I bake with them quite frequently.

The flavor of strawberries in a cake like this is more subtle. A co-worker even asked me what kind of fruit was in this cake. Baking them this way gives them a slight tartness that compliments the sweetness of the cake batter – a great combination. So, let’s talk about fresh strawberry yogurt cake…

StrawberriesLesson Learned 1 – Ripe strawberries are not the best for baking: Because of the exploding factor I alluded to above, ripe strawberries are not the best to bake with simply because they hold more water. In baking it’s really best to use strawberries that are only somewhat ripe. That way they release less moisture, your cake will not fall in on itself and you’ll still get that great strawberry flavor. But if your strawberries are ripe, simply use less of them. Cut them in small pieces and discard any piece that may be overly soft. When I made this recipe my strawberries were pretty ripe so I only used about 8 ounces in the cake. If you have less ripe strawberries you can use as much as 12 ounces.

And don’t use frozen strawberries with this recipe. If you do, you can be sure your cake will be a gooey mess.

IMG_6028Lesson Learned 2 – Make sure your cake is completely cool before icing it: I don’t know about you but I’m always in a hurry to put the icing on the cake. I rationalize that if it’s only slightly warm it will be ok. Wrong – o! Even if the cake is slightly warm, the icing will melt into the cake. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you want your icing visible be patient and wait until the cake has cooled. The cake will taste great and you will be awarded visually as well!

I took this cake to work and the slices were gone in less than one half hour. This is a very moist and flavorful cake. Try it and let me know what you think.

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake...

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 cup flour, (add 1 Tbs. for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (you’ll need 2 lemons for this recipe)

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

3 large eggs, room temperature

8 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt

8 – 12 oz. fresh strawberries, sliced small (use lesser amount if strawberries are ripe)

Vegetable shortening and flour to prepare the Bundt pan

ICING:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest (I used the zest of one small lemon)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. Set aside. Zest and juice the lemons. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until each is thoroughly incorporated. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat for another minute.

Add the dry ingredients and yogurt to the mixture, starting out and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. (Scrape the sides of the bowl and under the beater blade to make sure everything has been combined).

Gently fold in the strawberries. Pour into the prepared ban. Reduce the heat in the oven to 325 and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the Bundt pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

 Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Strawberry Cream Cheese Loaf…

Now we’re seeing more and more strawberries in the grocery stores – the season is vastly approaching (and thank goodness because we’re all getting tired of snow). Yesterday I wanted to make something quick and sweet and decided on this particular loaf. This recipe is one that differs slightly from sea level to high altitude and I’ll write out both versions so you can successfully make it wherever you live. Regardless, this loaf is a sure winner. It is moist and not overly sweet – great for snacking or for dessert.

strawbread2

Lesson Learned 1 – Don’t over mix the batter: In order to keep this loaf moist you only need to incorporate the ingredients. Once they are, quit mixing! Loafs like this will get tough quickly if they’re over mixed.

IMG_3266Lesson Learned 2 – Cut the strawberries into small pieces: After removing the hull I cut the strawberries in half and sliced them. If the strawberry was larger, I cut it in half twice before I sliced it. Strawberries tend to be like blueberries when you bake them, they have a tendency to explode (as I like to call it) in the batter. If they’re too large when they explode your loaf will sink in on itself. In this recipe I used only 1 1/4 cups of strawberries, but you could easily use only 1 cup and still have a great loaf.

IMG_3286Lesson Learned 3 – Fold the strawberries gently into the batter: Strawberries break apart rather easily so you need to be careful when adding them. Fold them in as if you’re folding egg whites into a batter. That way you will have nice marbling and not a strawberry explosion.

Lesson Learned 4 – You may have to use an extra pan for all of the batter: This batter rises rather high. I filled a 9 x 5 loaf pan about two thirds of the way up and put the excess batter in a 3″ x 5″ mini foil loaf pan. If I hadn’t done that, the batter would have risen over the side of the larger pan. What’s nice about doing this is I had a small loaf that I could give as a gift to a neighbor and still had the larger loaf for my family. I recommend not putting all of the batter in one pan, but if you’re brave go ahead. I think you’ll find that if you do, it will run over the sides. If you put some batter in a small loaf pan, it only needs to bake for 30 minutes. The larger loaf takes 50 – 60 minutes.

For as easy and quick as this is to make, it’s a delicious sweet treat. Next time you’re in a pinch for time but want to make something fresh, this would be the loaf to make. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Loaf...

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar (slightly less for high altitude)

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder (1 tsp for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. baking soda (1/4 for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 – 1 1/4 cups strawberries, diced small

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (you can use an organic cooking spray as well) a 9 x 5 loaf pan and a 3″ x 5″ inch mini foil loaf pan. In a medium size bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Using a electric stand mixer (or hand mixer) cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until soft. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk until combined. Do not over mix.

Carefully fold in the strawberries (the dough will be thick). Bake the small loaf for 30 minutes and the large loaf for 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the loaf cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing it.

IMG_3313

 IMG_3336

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Glazed Strawberry Bread…

NOTE: Here’s my second in a series of re-blogs while I’m in the throws of selling/buying and moving. I hope to be back online with one new recipe a week starting at the end of July. Until then, let’s revisit some of my more popular recipes! You’ve gotta try this one. It is simply fabulous!


It’s been a little longer than usual since my last post. The month of May has many “things” happening like birthdays, anniversaries and of course Memorial Day. I got a little caught up in all of that but now am back to a more normal schedule regarding this blog.

Cut The Strawberries Into Small Pieces

Cut The Strawberries Into Small Pieces

I don’t know about you but this season it seems like the strawberries are more plentiful, sweeter and cheaper. I’ve mostly been eating a lot of strawberries combined with blueberries and raspberries and mixed with greek yoghurt as a special breakfast treat. But I was also interested in finding a good recipe for strawberry bread and I think I’ve found just about the best one yet on a website called sallysbakingaddiction.com.

I liked this recipe for a variety of reasons which I will talk about in my rating and lessons learned. That being said, make sure you make this one – you will not be disappointed.

Rating: A+ to the nth degree! This is the highest rating I have ever given a recipe because in my mind it is the perfect one – it was easy to make, turned out perfectly the first time and the recipe was well written. Yahoo! This one gets the highest honors to date!

Wet And Dry Ingredients and Chopped Strawberries

Wet And Dry Ingredients and Chopped Strawberries

Lesson Learned 1: THE RECIPE. Read this recipe carefully because if you do it will turn out perfectly. In the original recipe, the author took great pains to include the little nuances that so many cooks consider basic knowledge and consequently omit. The recipe is very specific on what you should use not only to create a moist cake but to get it to brown to perfection. Bravo to this cook who took the time to include all of the information you need to know. The recipe I am writing below is my version which includes the original recipe and my adjustments for high altitude.

Lesson Learned 2: THE CORRECT SIZE LOAF PAN. The original recipe called for a 9×5 pan. I used an 8×4 and it worked out perfectly. As a matter of fact I would recommend using an 8×4 for this recipe as you get a taller bread by using the smaller pan.

Lesson Learned 3: OIL. The original recipe called for vegetable oil but I used coconut oil and it turned out beautifully. As a matter of fact, I would recommend using coconut oil if you have it. The cake turned out really moist.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Lesson Learned 4: ROOM TEMPERATURE EGGS. What I absolutely loved in this recipe was a tip regarding using room temperature eggs. First of all, I’ve always heard you should use room temperature eggs in baking but I never knew why. I found out that room temperature eggs tend to mix more evenly than cold eggs, who knew? But here’s the greatest TIP: If you’re like me and never remember to take the eggs out before you start baking, just take your eggs, put them in a cup, cover them with warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Voila! You have a room temperature eggs!

Lesson Learned 5: A KITCHEN SCALE. Baking is not like cooking. You need your measurements to be exact in order to get the best results. I’ve found that to be especially the case with flour. If a recipe (which this one does) includes the weight of flour in grams, use a scale and measure the flour that way. It is so much more precise. TIP: If you keep your flour in a canister, take a knife and stir the flour to eliminate any compaction that may have occurred while sitting in the canister. Then put your measuring cup in, scoop the flour out and level it off at the top with your knife. That is another trick to get a more accurate amount of flour in your recipe, although using a scale is the most accurate.

Fresh Out Of The Oven...

Fresh Out Of The Oven…

Lesson Learned 6: COVERING THE BREAD IN FOIL. The recipe calls for loosely covering the bread with foil after the first 30 minutes of baking so the bread will not get overly dark. Great tip! I covered the bread after thirty minutes, baked it for another 20 and it still was not done but uncovered it and baked it for 10 more minutes and it came out perfectly.

Lesson Learned 7: THE GLAZE. This is perhaps the best glaze I ever tasted and I think the reason is that it’s made with heavy cream instead of just milk or water. One place where the recipe differed from what I experienced was in the amount of heavy cream to use. The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, 1 cup of confectioners sugar and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. That combination gave me a ball of paste. I wound up using about 6 TBS. of heavy cream and 1 TBS of vanilla extract in order to get the consistency you see in the pictures. It tasted better than any glaze I’ve ever made. Heavy cream is definitely the key to a great tasting glaze.

Lesson Learned 8: MIXING. The recipe cautions not to over mix the batter in order to have a moist cake. This is absolutely true. Pay attention when mixing and just when everything is combined, stop! I was very careful not to over mix and the cake was moist and delicious.

My husband almost ate the whole loaf all by himself, that’s how great this bread is. It is so easy to make and so flavorful. I know you will thoroughly enjoy this recipe! You must try it.

Serving Suggestion

Serving Suggestion

Glazed Strawberry Bread…

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

BREAD:

2 cups (250g) flour

1 tsp. baking soda (1/2 tsp for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large egg, room temperature

3/4 sugar (2/3 cup high altitude)

1/4 cup brown sugar (50g) not firmly packed (high altitude leave an 1/8 inch visible around the rim of the measuring cup)

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil (you can use melted coconut oil)

1 cup buttermilk (no substitutions)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup fresh strawberries cut in small pieces

GLAZE:

1 cup (120g) confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4-6 TBS heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (If you did not allow for a room temperature egg, place your egg in a container, cover it with warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes. If using coconut oil, put the oil in a pan, melt it and set aside to cool.)  Spray a 8×4 loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until combined. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, granulated and brown sugars. Whisk until there are no visible lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until there are no lumps. Do not over mix.

Mix the strawberries with 1-2 TBS of flour (this will prevent the strawberries from only staying at the top of the bread). Carefully fold the strawberries into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly.

Bake for 50 minute to 1 hour. Loosely cover the bread with foil after 30 minutes of baking. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Keep the bread in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it. Allow the bread to cook completely before glazing it.

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

Glazed Strawberry Bread

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake…

Almost ready to go into the oven...

Almost ready to go into the oven…

So I was bored and thought, gosh I haven’t baked in a while. Let’s see what I already have in the house and make something. I got a new spring form pan for Christmas and hadn’t christened it yet. What’s the matter with me? Time to figure out a baking project…

So I perused my pantry and refrigerator and went off seeking the help of my trusted friend Pinterest and voila, it was decided – I’m making a strawberry cream cheese coffee cake. I found a recipe from a blog called joansfoodwonderings on blogspot. I had everything to make the cake and so I proceeded on my baking adventure. Here are my lessons learned along with my recipe rating.

Rating: A – this is a great recipe, a little time consuming to make but well worth the effort. It is not overly sweet and yet very flavorful. The dough reminded me of chocolate chip cookie dough as I could had eaten raw by the spoonfuls. Great recipe, a must try.

A slice - obviously in need of adjustment for high altitude but still delis...

A slice – obviously in need of adjustment for high altitude but still delish…

Lesson Learned 1: I have to get off my butt and get more proficient at high altitude baking. For some reasons some recipes I have mastered but when it comes to a few I just fail miserably. My failure on this one was not horrible – it’s just that I really need to get more proficient at adjusting these types of recipes for high altitude so my cakes don’t fall in. I know the basic rules namely decrease the leavening (baking powder), decrease the sugar (it weighs the mixture down, ergo the fall-in) and increase the liquid. I tried this recipe as is and it wound up falling in (as you can see from the picture to the right). Not sure why I didn’t try to adjust it but I’ve already decided that my next baking venture is going to be a cheesecake so I will definitely do some adjusting on that and see what happens. The challenge with high altitude baking is it can be such a guessing game from recipe to recipe and that gets a little frustrating. But it’s my reality. I will definitely try this one again with a few adjustments. Thank goodness it still tastes good – just not as pretty as I would like it to be. My goal is to adjust this recipe so it the cake continues to look the same way it does when it first comes out of the oven (see picture below). I know I can do it! The recipe I will give you is not adjusted for high altitude but provides some high altitude tips.

Lesson Learned 2: Make sure the strawberries you use are ripe. Mine were a little less ripe and I think that affects the overall sweetness the strawberries provide. You do add sugar to the strawberries when you cook them, but I think the sweetness of them would have been even richer had they been just a tad riper.

Lesson Learned 3: I seem to have a hard time creating a good crumb topping. I know you need to use cold butter and use either a pastry cutter or some other sharp utensil to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture turns into course crumbs. For some reason I can’t seem to get the butter incorporated to the point that my mixture looks consistently like coarse crumbs. Some parts of it does, the other parts simply look like flour. I wound up not putting the entire mixture on top of the coffee cake, just the parts that resembled coarse crumbs. I’m glad I did. Otherwise the top of the cake would have had a large dusting of flour on it instead of a crumb topping. I have to figure out how to get better at this as well. Next time I think I’m going to try to do the combining in the food processor and see if that helps. If you have any tips, let me know as this has been a perennial issue for me.

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

 

As you can see from the picture above, the finished product (if it doesn’t fall in) is really a site to behold. I like this recipe because it is not overly sweet. Be careful not to overcook. The recipe called for baking from 50-55 minutes. I did 55 and the cake part was slightly overdone – again not awful but next time I’ll do 50 minutes. This recipe requires a lot of dishes to put together, but in the end I think it is worth it.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour

1 cup + 3 tsp. sugar, divided (high altitude consider using a light measure – i.e., not all the way to the top of the measuring cup)

1 stick cold butter

1/2 tsp baking powder (reduce for high altitude to 1/8)

1/2 tsp baking soda (reduce for high altitude to 1/8)

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup full fat sour cream

2 extra large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz. room temperature cream cheese

2 cups fresh strawberries cut into pieces

3 tsp water for slurry (high altitude consider adding 2-3 TBS of water – 1 TBS to the cream cheese mixture and 2 TBS to the cake batter)

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. Begin by making the strawberry filling. Cut the strawberries into small pieces, put in a pot and add sugar. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until strawberries release their juices. In the meantime combine 3 tsp. of water with the cornstarch and make a slurry (make sure you get the cornstarch completely combined with the water). Add to the strawberry mixture and continue to cook until the mixture thickens (a couple of minutes). Take off the stove to set aside and cool.

Next, make the cream cheese filling by first beating the cream cheese for about a minute until it becomes fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, egg, vanilla and 1 TBS water (only in high altitude). Beat until combined. Set aside.

To make the cake, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup cold butter sliced into cubes. (I use a pastry cutter to initially slice the butter and it works very well). Cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture (try using a food processor for this so that the mixture becomes more evenly combined) until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Take 3/4 cup of this mixture and set aside for the topping.

In a separate bowl beat the egg, sour cream and vanilla (and for high altitude add 2 Tbs. of water) until smooth. Using a spoon, combine the sour cream mixture with the remaining flour mixture until well combined. The batter will be thick and maybe slightly lumpy.

Line the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spread the batter in the bottom of the pan and create a well by pushing the batter up 1/2 inch all around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture in the center of the well making sure that it does not go over the side of the batter edges. Spread the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumble over the top of the cake.

Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cake cool for at least a half hour before removing from the pan. At that point the cheese center will still be warm. Let the cake set for at least another hour before serving or put in the refrigerator to chill.