Even though it’s the end of March, spring is here, both officially and weather-wise, at least in my neighborhood. Temperatures in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s, blossoming trees, flowers and foliage and the frogs in the marsh behind my house croaking to their heart’s content. Although in my heart I know that there will be at least one or two short cold snaps (we call them Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, etc.), I have said goodbye to winter.
With the goodbye to winter comes a different mode of cooking, at least for me. I found the most wonderful fresh, ripe strawberries this weekend, and to me, they personify spring. I automatically started thinking of how I could use them in recipes, so I made a luscious Strawberry Pound Cake. What’s better than a homemade pound cake except the addition and infusion of fresh strawberries? My friends, it perked me up, and like spring, brought to mind new days, new beginnings, and the promise of good things to come. Yes, I’m the eternal optimist!!! Here’s my version:
Strawberry Pound Cake
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter (not margarine), softened to room temperature
- 3 ½ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (White Lily)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease and flour a Bundt or Angel Food Cake pan (or use PAM baking spray with flour). In large stand mixer (like my beloved Kitchen Aid), beat butter and 3 cups of granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add eggs, 1 at a time until fully incorporated. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.
In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and ½ teaspoon salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Pour batter into pan, and bake 60-75 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
While cake is baking, mix strawberries, ½ cup granulated sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt in food processor or blender until smooth, about 45-60 seconds. Pour mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer into bowl and discard solids left in strainer. Measure out ½ cup strawberry mixture and set aside. Mix 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Combine cornstarch mixture and remaining strawberry mixture in small saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to simmer. Reduce heat and continue to whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat.
Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer poke holds about ½ inch apart into bottom of cake and wiggle the skewer to widen the holes, but don’t poke through the top of the cake. Pour warm strawberry syrup mixture over cake. Let it stand until syrup is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
Mix 3 cups powdered sugar and reserved ½ cup strawberry mixture in a medium bowl until smooth, and pour over cooled cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries, and enjoy!
When baking a pound cake, it’s important to bring ingredients such as butter and eggs to room temperature before mixing. This will allow mixture to incorporate smoothly.
Until next time, be kinder than necessary, and remember that the strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who fight battles we know nothing about.