Greetings! We’re gearing up for the 4th of July weekend here at Four Chickens. Our block usually has a fun all-day gathering. We block off the dead-end, the kids bike, scooter, play foursquare, and climb the tree while the adults hang out, eat and drink. When it’s time for the fireworks, we walk a block over and watch them from the next street (we have a great view in our neighborhood). All of this is my perfect way to spend this holiday. I’m not a big fan of huge crowds and crazy drivers. We get both in the neighborhood since we’re so close to the lake over which the fireworks are shown. And, if we drive anywhere that day, we won’t be able to get back in for hours. So hanging out on our own block is heaven for me!
Everyone contributes to the food portion of the show. We set up a couple of barbecues. One for veggies, one for meat. We have popsicles galore. Chips and dips, of course. Homemade ice cream (I’ll be making strawberry this year). And, I try to bake. This year I’m also making a simple strawberry butter cake. The recipe can also be used for other berries like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Or all mixed together. It’s easy to make and is always a hit. I’ve had several meetings this week, so I’ve already baked it two of them and will bake another one for Sunday.
The reason strawberry cake is my cake of choice right now is that we have an entire freezer full of strawberries. And not just any strawberries, Shuksan strawberries. Girlfriend and I had the good fortune of being invited on a promotional tour of Skagit Sun Farms on Monday. Girlfriend and I picked our weight in strawberries (or so it seemed). The Shuksan variety is arguably one of the sweetest and most delicate strawberries around. They are much in demand around here. I was thrilled to finally get a chance to taste them. By the time I heard about them last year, they were gone. When we got home from our outing, Girlfriend and I ate a bunch of our haul and then I froze the rest. We have been eating them all week, and I have taken every opportunity to bake with them. I’ve also given away a couple of bags. Sigh. I always feel like a wealthy woman when I have a freezer full of fresh, in-season produce.
I brought one of these cakes to our Canning Across America meeting last night, where someone declared it to be my best fruit-containing cake yet! Wow, high praise from a room full of foodie-types. One of the terrific things about this cake is that it is versatile and easy. Not a lot of fuss needs to go into making this and the payoff is pure deliciousness!
Berry Cake, Gluten-Free (edited to add appropriate baking temp 8/13/10)
Special Equipment Needed
-8-9″ springform pan (if you don’t have one, just use a regular 8-9″ round cake pan)
Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place):
1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cake)
1 C (140g) plus 1 1/2 tsp Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (the big-crystal salt)
1/2 C (4 oz; 1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened
1 C (190g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large or extra large eggs
2 C (475 ml) chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or whole blueberries (make sure to drain any juice from these–I often use semi-frozen berries so they’re not mushy)
extra butter and tapioca flour for the pan
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your pan. If using a springform pan, place a parchment paper round in the bottom and butter and flour the sides. If using a regular cake pan, just place a parchment paper found in the bottom–no need to butter and flour the sides.
In a small bowl, combine 1 C of the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy–about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, beat to mix in. Add the eggs, beat for a few minutes more. Add the flour mixture, beat until just combined. Carefully spoon into the prepared pan (it is a thick batter, so you will need to stabilize the parchment paper so it doesn’t shift to one side).
In a medium bowl, combine your berries and the remained 1 1/2 tsp of flour. Spoon the berry mixture over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. If you’re using an 8″ pan, your cake will take a bit longer to bake.
Remove from oven and cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. If using a springform pan, run a knife around the sides to release the cake from pan. Then remove outer ring and set cake on rack to cool. If using a cake pan, turn over onto a rack, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.
I usually serve this as-is, but you can serve it dusted with powdered sugar or with a side dollop of whipped cream.
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