I created my dream cake! (And then found excuses to bake it twice in one week, naturally.) It’s perfect for the season, and also perfect in general–did I mention that this is my dream cake?
It’s strawberry season in New York. Like some bizarre fruit addict, I’ve been hitting up the farmers market at least three times a week for these small beauties. (Yeah, yeah, I’m strange, don’t worry about it.) In-season strawberries are typically tinier than the supermarket variety, also, a lot sweeter and more flavorful. They are maddeningly, delightfully fragrant from a distance, and bright red all the way through.
Also, they taste really very good stirred into mascarpone cream. In fact, you could simply offer guests a bowl of strawberries with a generous dollop of cool, whipped mascarpone cream and be well on your way.
But since you already went to the trouble of buying great strawberries, you might as well go ahead and make the cake, too. Why not? It’s low maintenance, as cakes go, and also very delicious. The crumb is tender, almost-dense, and not overly sweet–the cornmeal helps keep the sugar in check.
This cake also soaks up strawberry juice and glaze incredibly well. You can swap in other berries as the summer creeps on, or stir in a little fruity booze, you wild thing.
A note on the cake: I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed Blueberry Sauce. In my version, buttermilk is replaced with thick, farm fresh yogurt. Lemon glaze is changed to strawberry-lemon.
A note on the ingredients: The better quality cream/yogurt/eggs you use, the tastier the cake will be. It makes a difference, I promise!
Makes 1, 9-inch layer cake
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- the zest of 1 small lemon
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1. Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and the salt.
3. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
4. In yet another small bowl, melt the butter; I used the microwave in 10 second intervals.
5. Add the wet ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to gently fold everything together, just until the batter is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the greased pan, and smooth the top with spatula.
6. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then move it to a rack to finish cooling.
Strawberry Glaze and Cream:
- 1 punnet of strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup cream
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
1. Wash, dry, and hull the strawberries. Halve them if they are small, and quarter them if they are larger. Move the strawberries to a medium bowl, and toss them with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let the strawberries sit, 30 minutes-1 hour, until strawberry juice has collected at the bottom of the bowl.
2. Pour all the strawberry juice (about 2 tablespoons) into another bowl, along with the powdered sugar and lemon juice, and whisk to form the glaze. (Reserve the strawberries.)
3. In a medium-sized bowl, whip the cream. Fold in the mascarpone. Cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to build the cake.
Putting Everything Together:
Use a bread knife to cut the cake into two, even halves. Use a spatula to spread the cream across the bottom half. (Leave about 1/2-inch of space on the edges; the cream will smoosh out when you place the other cake half on top.)
Spread most of the reserved strawberries over the cream. Place the second half of the cake on top.
Pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Decorate with the remaining strawberries–a pile in the middle, or scattered around the edges.