Friday, April 10, 2015

Yogurt Cake with Strawberries & Cream

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!

Bench notes:
- 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.


movita beaucoup said...

We still have four feet of snow here in Nova Scotia, so I'll just ogle this cake until our berries turn up. At this rate, we'll be eating strawberries in... August.

pastry studio said...

OOOOooohhh, brrrrrr. I hope you see some sunshine soon, motiva!

SallyBR said...

I also have strawberries in my mind this weekend....

I was thinking of attempting a strawberry souffle'... but your cake looks super lovely, as usual...

pastry studio said...

SallyBR, Strawberry Souffle sounds divine. I've never made one of those but will have to look into remedying that immediately…….!

saturday mike said...

I made this last night, though I couldn't find decent strawberries. Instead, I poached diced pear in a ginger/vanilla syrup. It was delicious!! The cake was a breeze to throw together and was moist, yet sturdy enough to handle and not break. I used most of the whipped cream in the center with the fruit, but saved some to spread on top. Definitely a cake I'll make again, especially once strawberries are available in the midwest!

pastry studio said...

Oh, wow, saturday mike. I love the idea of a ginger/vanilla syrup for pears. I must try this! Thank you.

This cake is super versatile and makes a good canvas for any kind of pairing. And as you say, it's super easy to whip up when the mood strikes.

Hope you see some good strawberries soonish!

saturday mike said...

I used forelle pears, which are really delicious.
I hope we get some strawberries, too! They'll show up at markets in early June, but maybe some from California will show up at stores sooner!

pastry studio said...

Sweeet! Forelles would be perfect for this cake. I love pears so this definitely is enticing.

Strawberries are in abundance here right now and they are quite good. Hope some of them do drift your way.

Nancy @ imadethisdish said...

This is a great recipe! Strawberries, whipping cream and cake go hand-in-hand. I love your tip adding some yogurt in the cake. My mom used to make cakes the same way, but adding sour cream. Have to give this a try!

pastry studio said...

Nancy, yes yogurt is sort of a modern update in cakes that in the past called for sour cream. They each have their different properties but are fairly interchangeable these days.