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greening

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



Making this cake is a two-bowl dealio. Beat the wet ingredients in one bowl, combine the dry in the other bowl, then gradually mix together. Okay, it’s a little more nuanced than that, but not by much.

stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl

combine the eggs and sugar in another bowl

whip the eggs and sugar on high until pale colored and thick



I used canola oil in this recipe, but you can opt for a light olive oil instead. Something without a strong flavor should work just fine.

mix the sour cream, olive oil, and vanilla into the wet batter

slowly beat in the dry ingredients a third at a time



The recipe calls for a springform pan, but I suspect you could get away with a standard 9-inch round pan or an 8-inch square pan as long as you butter and line the base with parchment, and butter the sides.

pour half the batter into the pan

sprinkle the diced strawberries over the batter, then cover with remaining batter

arrange the cut strawberries on top

out of the oven



Bake the cake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This took me 15 minutes longer than the recipe’s recommended 45-55 minutes, so keep your eye on the cake. It came out nicely despite a few darkened strawberry slices which I chalk up to the extended oven time. You can serve it as is or dress a slice up with a dusting of powdered sugar, whipped cream, or ice cream. And definitely add fresh berries!

great with coffee or tea

there’s something wonderful about strawberries and freshly whipped cream

i love strawberry season



Easy Strawberry Cake
[print recipe]
from Natasha’s Kitchen

12 oz. strawberries, washed and hulled
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or light olive oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder (reduce to 1 tsp @ 8500 feet above sea level)
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half of the berries.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed with the whisk attachment until light colored and thick (about 5 minutes). Add the sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low until just combined. Repeat until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter without overmixing. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the diced strawberries over the batter. Spread the rest of the batter in the pan and arrange the strawberry slices on top, cut-side down.

Bake 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine took 70 minutes – I suggest covering the edge with foil beyond 55 minutes to avoid burning). Remove from oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes. When cake is warm enough to touch, release the sides of the springform pan. Serve with whipped cream or powdered sugar. Serves 8-10.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

strawberry brown butter tarts strawberry chiffon buttercream cake strawberry crisp strawberry semifreddo

11 nibbles at “greening”

  1. Kristin says:

    Oh, that looks delicious! But I really think I want the pasta and sushi! And I’m super happy that this post reminded me that I have some strawberries and some leftover crepes from yesterday, so I am going to have crepes with strawberries for breakfast if my cat ever gets off my lap!

  2. Samantha says:

    What a beautiful post, as ever, thank you for sharing

  3. Mary Karen Euler says:

    I concur with Samantha…You’re beautiful post is just what my spirit needed! I’ve never been able to find morels in the wild, but just ordered some dried ones that I think might be fine in your tagliatelli recipe? And I can’t wait to make this strawberry cake! Thank you Jen for feeding our minds & souls, as well as our bodies!

  4. Cindi says:

    This looks absolutely delish! Thanks, Jen!

  5. Carole says:

    Oh man, that cake looks scrumptious!

  6. D. says:

    Afternoon:
    Just ticked pink with your post.
    Tha masks would win at a contest for colorful functional and well made !

    Cheers this splendid spring day to you your doggies husband and endearing parents .

  7. Christi says:

    Made this cake today and it is so delicious! From my parents (who we delivered some to) to my five and seven year old boys- it got a round of thumbs ups! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  8. Pey-Lih says:

    Delightful! Thanks Jen. Glad to know you’re doing well and are safe. Thank you for this recipe. I finally got some organic strawberries yesterday, so I will bake this cake. Happy Friday!

  9. Roberta Sprague says:

    I made this cake and it was simple and yummy. Two suggestions: wrap the aluminum foil after 45 minutes. And think a little lemon zest would brighten the flavor.

  10. Mary says:

    That looks amazeballs!

  11. Jill Hyde says:

    Sometimes I save your posts until just the right morning, when the coffee is perfect. Today is that day, and I’m glad I did. Oh that pasqueflower fuzz! You seem to capture the most beautiful…don’t know how you continue to amaze me. And the cake… could the Easy Strawberry Cake be the first cake I ever make? Seriously, 64 and never made a cake. Having my sister and husband over for Memorial Day BBQ…she’s the baker. I might just surprise her. YOU are an inspiration. xo, Jill

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