Friday, June 25, 2010

Strawberry Summer Cake

Now that we are officially into summer season, it’s time to think about the bounty of summer fruit. Strawberries always remind me of summer picnics and the fun of gathering with family and friends.

This is a little riff on Strawberry Shortcake with a bit of a Mediterranean flair. The cake includes just a smidgen of semolina to add a bit of edge to the texture. I use extra virgin olive oil to moisten and flavor the cake. It’s filled with fresh strawberries along with their delicious juices and finished with a cream that includes mascarpone and ricotta. It’s La Dolce Vita luscious. Just to complete the picture, I highly recommend serving with a glass of Brachetto d'Acqui or Prosecco.

Here’s to the long and lazy days of summer!

Bench notes:
- You should be able to find semolina in bulk grocery stores. If you prefer to leave it out, just substitute flour for the semolina, totaling 1 1/2 cups of flour in the recipe.
- If you can’t find mascarpone, you can substitute cream cheese.
- Consider making homemade fresh ricotta. It's really delicious and worth the effort. All you'll need is milk, heavy cream, lemon juice, salt and cheesecloth, which you can find at most grocers and hardware stores.
- I cut the cake in half vertically for height in presentation, but you can also just cut it in half horizontally, fill and finish. Or just cut the cake into square servings and dollop the top with strawberries, juices and cream.

Strawberry Summer Cake

1 C + 2 T flour
1/4 C + 2 T semolina
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C full-fat plain yogurt
1 C sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

8 oz mascarpone
1 C ricotta
3/4 C sugar
tiny pinch of salt
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t kirsch (optional)
1/2 C heavy cream

2 lbs fresh strawberries
1/4 C sugar, to taste
1 t orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 9" x 2” square pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, semolina, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk the dry ingredients slowly and gently into the wet ingredients. Add the olive oil and blend thoroughly.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cake is a light golden brown and springs back when touched or a tester comes out clean.

Hull and slice the strawberries. Toss with sugar and orange zest. Set aside for about an hour to macerate, stirring every 15 minutes or so to distribute the juices.

For the cream, combine the mascarpone, ricotta, sugar, vanilla, kirsch (if using) and a tiny pinch of salt. Add the heavy cream and whip until the cream shows tracks and reaches a medium peak. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble, trim off the edges of the cake. Cut the cake in half and spread a layer of the cream and then add a layer of strawberries. Top with the second half of the cake and finish with the remaining cream. Serve with additional strawberries and their juices.


Victoria said...

Oh, another scrumptious-looking cake. My local farm upstate has beautiful fresh strawberries this time of year, and they will still be growing next week for July Fourth weekend.

So I know what dessert will be at my July Fourth lunch.

Two questions. Do you make your own ricotta, and why do you use kirsch instead of a fraise liqueur?

Paola said...

That looks so good, perfect for a summer afternoon!
Beautiful pictures and even better recipe.

soo said...

Wow, that looks delicious! I love how it's inspired by a strawberry shortcake, but ended up being so much better!

pastry studio said...

Hello everyone and thanks for your sweet comments!

Victoria, yes I do make my own ricotta:

I meant to include it in the bench notes! I've amended the text. Thank you!

pastry studio said...

Also, Victoria - I use a very good quality kirsch because I like the subtle hint of almond. But, yes, a fraise liqueur would also be delicious.

Victoria said...

I didn't realize that kirsch had an almond "scent" from the cherry stones.

I love almonds, so I am going to try it with the kirsch for sure.

Thanks. I'm not exactly going to bed hungry, but that cake looks so tempting right now that I'm feeling just a little like Oliver Twist.

Val said...

This cake looks truly yummy!!!

Barbara said...

Is there anything that spells summer more than this luscious strawberry cake? So beautiful and so delicious!

LimeCake said...

oh wow the cake looks so deliciously moist! and no mixer required makes it even more attractive! reminds me of a snazzier strawberry shortcake.

Mary said...

This is a lovely cake. I'll be posting the Swedish version of it tomorrow. This is my first visit to your blog, si I've taken some time to read through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did. I love your recipes and the convivial tone of you blog. I'll be back often to see what else you've been cooking.

pastry studio said...

Welcome, Mary, and thanks for your sweet comment. I look forward to your Swedish version. I also love your blog!