Strawberry season is upon us! There is truly nothing like the onset of spring and the first appearance of gorgeous strawberries. Their bright red color and luscious flavor are a most welcome addition to our pastry toolbox. They are the first to appear in our long and lovely parade of fresh fruit this time of year, so each spring I know I have to begin the celebration with strawberries.
As usual, I like to keep things simple. Strawberries need no fancy work up. A simple cake and some whipped cream enhance them quite deliciously. This cake is made with yogurt, orange and lemon zest and canola oil. I also add a dash of olive oil, just enough for a bit more flavor but not too much that it overwhelms the delicate flavor of the strawberries. Whipped cream swirled with sugared strawberries fill the center. In the end, what sounds and looks like a plain affair is in truth really quite luxurious. A very good way to kick off our slide into spring.
Here’s to the beginnings of a wonderful spring season full of fresh berries, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and figs!
- You can use full fat or low fat yogurt.
- Add a bit of orange zest or a dash of balsamic to the mashed berries for variation.
- Use a long serrated knife to cut the cake in half and to trim the sides.
- This is a very versatile cake you can serve with any fresh fruit of the season. I baked it in an 8" square so it would be tall enough to layer but it can also be baked in a 9" round with fruit served along side your slices. Check it after about 28 minutes.
- Of course, Strawberry Shortcake is also a MUST. There’s Almond Shortcakes and Sour Cream Shortcakes with Berries.
Yogurt Cake with Strawberries & Cream
Serves 6 - 8
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 oz) canola oil
2 tablespoons (1 oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (8 oz) plain yogurt
16 oz fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar, to taste
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (19 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8” square cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of an inch or so on two sides.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Whisk together the canola and olive oil, sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zest and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Mix in the yogurt. Add the flour mixture and whisk to fully incorporate.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the bottom of the pan on a work surface a few times to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched and a tester comes out clean, about 32 - 34 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen it. Carefully lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment overhang to assist. Remove the parchment and cool completely.
Set enough strawberries aside to decorate the top of the cake. Hull and slice the remainder into a bowl. Add sugar, to taste, and toss thoroughly. Set aside for about 10 - 15 minutes to macerate.
Whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to medium peak. Drain the strawberries and reserve the juices. Fold about half of the berries into the cream.
Slice the cake in half horizontally and set the top half aside. Spread the cream on top, leaving about a 1/2” border on all sides. Top with remaining sliced berries. Place the other half of the cake on top and press down gently to secure. Decorate the cake with reserved berries. Brush the top of the cake and berries with reserved juices. Trim the sides if you'd like a neater presentation. Chill until ready to serve, then bring to room temperature.