After a two-week heat wave, it’s starting to cool down in Paris this week. At the Thursday Bastille market, there were yellow and orange leaves littering the ground, and the strawberries were not as numerous or quite as bright and juicy-looking as they were earlier in the summer. I know it’s only August, but as soon as the strawberries start going out, it feels like fall is on its way. What’s say we make a few lovely sun-drenched cakes to stretch out the summer a little longer, hmm?
I’ve made a version of this cake every summer since I moved into my first apartment in college. I don’t remember where that first recipe came from — possibly one of the cookbooks that my roommates brought with them — but this recipe from Martha Stewart by way of Smitten Kitchen is my favorite so far. The milk in the recipe allows the cake to stay moist throughout the long bake time, while the strawberries soften and roast into dimpled puddles of sweet jamminess. The way the strawberries make the batter buckle and puff make it look vaguely quilted. Lovely for company or for afternoon snacking.
Strawberry Dimple Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for tart pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
Heat oven to 350°F.
Butter four 5-inch tart pans or a 10-inch cake pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup minus two tablespoons of the sugar until pale and fluffy with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
Pour into prepared tart pans or cake pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries. As it’s baking, the batter will buckle around the strawberries. Some will sink, and some will stay on the surface.
Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cakes or cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pans on a rack.
Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or honeyed fromage frais, which is what I did, or dusted with powdered sugar.
Don’t fill the tart pans or cake pan all the way to the top with batter, as it will expand prodigiously and may run over the sides of the pan if over-filled. The batter (without the topping of strawberries) should fill just about half of the pans. If in doubt, under-fill them.
I think this would also be great as a rustic layer cake, unmolded from the pans and stacked with layers of whipped cream.
These cakes keep, covered, at room temperature, for 2-3 days, and for about a month when wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.