Strawberries come into season between November and March every winter in India. One of the best ways to put those strawberries to use (short of just eating them, of course) is to bake them into this delicious cake I first came across on Deb Perelman’s blog, Smitten Kitchen.
I baked this cake for the first time five years ago, before I even had an Instagram account, and even before Magic Marinade itself existed. The recipe is extremely simple and takes just around half an hour to put together, making it a perfect starter cake for someone taking their first steps with baking. The strawberry layer on top insulates the cake from getting burnt, and also keeps the insides nice and moist— overall, it’s quite difficult to go wrong with this recipe.
Over time, I’ve modified the original recipe (hyperlinked above) according to ingredients found more easily here in India, while also attempting to enhance its overall flavour. Since strawberries (during their seasonal best) tend to be quite sweet, I used the bare minimum amount of sugar required to make the flavour of the fruit shine. To give the cake a moist tenderness, I used equal quantities (about a quarter cup each) of milk and dahi (curd, which you could also substitute with Greek yoghurt if you live outside India). An optional dash of rum also gives the body of the cake a nice mildly tipsy undertone.
I also re-wrote this recipe because certain interpretations of it seemed to yield a runny batter, making the strawberries sink into the cake, rather than cover the surface as intended.
I’ve been baking this cake pretty religiously every year, for the past five years now. Almost three years ago, the cake spread contagiously through a few baker-bloggers (mainly thanks to Magic Marinade’s dearest and oldest friend Revati, and Nandita who runs Saffron Trail) and I started to document everyone’s cakes in an annual album on the Magic Marinade Facebook page.
Strawberries are in season this winter in India, and this cake (by smitten kitchen) is cascading across bakers all over…
There weren’t any prizes or incentives to bake this cake as a part of this ‘movement’, though one could argue that having a delicious, beautiful cake like this one at the end of this endeavour is extremely gratifying, and would qualify as reward enough.
If this contagious inspiration comes over you, and you find yourself compelled to bake this cake, do send me a picture (you can contact me via the contact page here, or more easily, through Magic Marinade’s Facebook page messaging service) and I’ll put it up in the album there.
I’ve talked about baking as a form of catharsis and an anti-depressant before, and this season I decided to do something different with the first cake I baked. I’m going to try and pay it forward by cutting the cake into quarters and giving each quarter off to someone who could use a strawberry-cake pick-me-up.
If you’re contemplating baking something this winter (and winter is always a perfect time to get the oven going, warming up the house some), I’d highly recommend giving this cake a shot— I’ve actually got one of these in the oven right now, while I type these words, and my house is full with this gorgeous aroma of strawberries and vanilla cake.
You won’t regret it, nor with those around you.
|Bake time||1 hour||Contains eggs||8-12 slices|
|Prep time||30 minutes||Lightly Decadent||Easy|
85g butter (+ extra for greasing tin)
150g powdered sugar
2tbsp granulated sugar
1½tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
188g maida (+1tbsp for coating the tin)
30ml rum (optional)
1tsp vanilla extract
300g strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat oven to 175ºC. Butter an 8″ springform tin and coat the inside with about a tablespoon of maida.
- Cream together the powdered sugar (100g) and butter in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
- Whisk in the egg, followed by the two pinches of saly.
- Add the vanilla, milk, dahi and rum one by one (not at once— remember to whisk continuously).
- Sift in the maida and baking powder and fold or mix into the batter evenly.
- Pour the batter into the 8″ springform tin and spread evenly till the top layer is completely flat.
- Arrange the strawberries on top (ref: picture above, but you can arrange it in any way you like) to cover the entire surface.
- Drizzle the two tablespoons of granulated sugar on top of the strawberries and place in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 175ºC and bake for an hour. Testing this cake with a cake tester can be difficult, because the strawberry turns molten and always sticks to the tester when pulled out, so it might take a try to find the exact sweet spot at which the cake is ready, without getting dry and overbaked.
- Cool for about an hour before removing from tin and serving (though the duration of this cooling period tends to be variable (less), because of how delicious this cake smells while it bakes, and even more so once it’s out of the oven).