Posts tagged strawberry
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

mascarpone-filled cake with sherried berries

buttermilk cake with mascarpone frosting and berries

I’m torn whether to write to you about my thoughts on cake or spring. Both are tempting. Both are presently on my mind. Both are worthy of discussion. And both are things I love and can’t get enough of.

pour some sugar on me...in the oven!

I mean, who doesn’t like cake or spring? Especially a well-made cake and spring that arrives after a seemingly endless and bitterly cold winter. Almost overnight flowers are blooming and trees are covered in green fuzz and I’m wearing a sun dress. And I kinda like it. I could easily get used to this. Now, cake… Cake is big in my book. People who don’t like cake, or say they don’t like cake (do they even exist?) – I have to do a double-take because, come on, really? Cake? It’s like saying you hate puppies. Or rainbows.

cooling

I think the concept of cake is a marvelous, beautiful thing. It’s the kind of thing that just sounds festive, even if it’s an everyday kind of a cake. In fact, I think the word “cake” should come with a mandatory exclamation point. Like this – cake! There, doesn’t that sound so much more celebratory and decadent? Of course, when you are dealing with things like heavy cream, mascarpone, berries and sherry – decadent is really the only way to describe it. I like to be decadent before a somber mood sets in – like a Sunday supper before Monday morning sets in and it’s business as usual.

buttermilk cake waiting to be frostedgiant dollop of frosting

I’ve been trying to do this Sunday suppers thing with a few friends, and they’re kind of getting used to it and ask what’s on the menu next week. They come over with their kids and we eat and laugh and drink wine and then the kids have a dance-off like you wouldn’t believe. I think it’s partly because they’re so hopped up on sugar and that wee-bit of sherry in the cake, but whatever it is, they have some moves, people! They even try to trash the room like rock stars!

...as does Lev

But cake, dear readers, is a thing either done right or wrong. There’s no such thing as an okay cake. It’s not worth the indulgence unless it really, truly, is fantastic. Either you take a bite and your eyes roll upwards toward the heavens in ecstasy, or you think to yourself, “Eh, cake.” Notice, how lack of the “!” just dampens the whole experience. What you want, what would change everything, of course, is taking that forkful to your mouth and mere seconds later proclaiming, “Mmmm. Cake!

ronya approves of the cake

So many things could make a potentially stunning cake a mediocre one. Either the crumb is too dense, or the frosting too sweet, there’s too much of the frosting on the cake, or something. For me, the danger almost always lies in the amount of sugar that a cake contains. I prefer my cake to be a bit restrained on sweetness. Imagine, if you will, movies that queue dramatic music at particularly poignant parts. That always makes the experience less powerful for me. Letting me figure out that critical moment of heartbreak, without a musical nudge – is where it’s at. Cake and sugar – are sort of equivalent for me analogy-wise.

Which is why I was delighted that this cake had it all – light, moist crumb; delicate and lush frosting; and a tang of berries sweet and full of juice. My friends and their kids loved it as well. And they are very picky dessert people. There was even competition for who gets to lick the mixer whisk – which, in my book, is the highest of praises – no one volunteers for this job if the frosting is bad. In the end, everyone had nothing but praise for cake – even those at the table normally skeptical about dessert. My favorite part – is how simple, unfussy, and unpretentious it is. The cake looks downright messy and that’s part of its charm. I dare anyone not to like it. Especially if flowers are blooming outside. And there are rainbows. And puppies. But even without them – how could you not? After all – it’s not just cake – it’s cake!

buttermilk cake with mascarpone frosting and berries

Continue reading mascarpone-filled cake with sherried berries.

Monday, May 4, 2009

strawberry shortcake

strawberry shortcake

Strawberry shortcake is a curious thing. When I think of it, I see Fourth of July picnics, clambakes and gingham tablecloths. I envision pitchers of lemonade, potato salad and cole slaw; corn on the cob, hot dogs and kosher pickle spears. Strawberry shortcake is a bona fide summer meal – the kind that comes with 90 degree weather and fireworks. Of all dessert out there, it’s the one that says to me, summer is here, get your picnic blanket out and put on some Joe Cocker. I’m not sure why, but Joe Cocker makes me think of summer and lazy afternoons and tall, tumblers of lemon ice tea covered with tiny beads of moisture.

But strawberry shortcake to me doesn’t just say summer – it says a summer gathering, a party, a congregation of friends and family.

strawberry shortcake

So why, if this is such a thing of summer, did I make strawberry shortcake in the middle of April and for an Easter dinner of all occasions? You’re probably also wondering what on earth I was doing making an Easter dinner to begin with, but bear with me for a moment. There’s a perfectly logical and valid explanation for all this and as usual, my life always offers a bit of a comedy of errors element. You see, over a particular IM chat, I offered to make dinner for a friend the weekend after Easter, but what he heard was “the weekend of Easter holiday”. Better yet, I became aware of this broken telephone mishap while talking to his brother who thanked me for providing his sibling with an Easter feast. By the time I put the pieces together in my head, I figured, why not. And an Easter dinner was on.

strawberry shortcakestrawberry shortcake

For those of you who’ve never made your own shortcake, I implore you – please do. Shortcake is incredibly easy to make, I can’t think of a single way where it might go awry for you, so if you’re a beginner this is a particularly great recipe to start on. I promise you this much – once you have a made-from-scratch strawberry shortcake, you will never go back to the semi-homemade version again. It’s just one of those perfect meals, the kind that makes you involuntarily close your eyes in bliss the second the food touches your tongue. Personally, strawberry shortcake makes me weak in the knees, the same way say, Robert Plant’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” makes me weak in the knees – a little smiley, woozy, intoxicated, dizzy.

strawberry shortcake

It’s an added bonus that almost no one I know dislikes strawberry shortcake. Besides with the temperatures fluctuating from mid-forties to mid-nineties, when does winter end and summer begin? I figured at this rate I might as well make the strawberry shortcake and just maybe this would help to usher warmer weather in. It’s been wishful thinking thus far, but I’m hopeful.

Continue reading strawberry shortcake.