Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Honey, I baked you a cake

I am bursting with pride for my wonderful hubby, M. After taking two grueling 8-hour exams over a six month time frame, he now has his professional license in our state...the highest honor for his field. I wanted to mark the occasion by making something special for our family to eat together. On hand I had some amazing organic North Carolina strawberries from the Farmer's Market. M is not really into traditional cake so I tried to come up with a creative and delicious dessert. I wanted some kind of shortcake or parfait so decided to make a strawberry cake and serve it topped with homemade vanilla pudding.

The pudding needed to chill for a couple of hours so I made it first. In the past, my homemade pudding was not terribly successful so I didn't have really high hopes for this one. I was pleasantly surprised...the recipe from Tasty Kitchen was easy and it turned out great! There's nothing like the smell of homemade pudding on the stove. It reminds me of making pudding with my Gram as a little girl.

Pudding done, I washed and hulled the organic strawberries. I found this recipe for a simple strawberry cake and decided to give it a whirl. First you simmer the chopped strawberries with cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar:

And pour them over a simple batter made with lots of butter (!).

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes and voilĂ !

I served the cake warm with the chilled vanilla pudding on top. Delish! A seasonal homemade treat - filled with love for my family, my amazing husband, and the life we have built together.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding
Adapted from Homemade Vanilla Pudding and Strawberry Trifle by Cook, Bake, and Decorate

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
½ cups organic cane sugar
⅛ teaspoons sea salt, finely ground
3 cups whole milk (I used our yummy Homeland Creamery milk)
3 whole egg yolks (local, free range)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine the first 5 pudding ingredients together in a large saucepan and whisk over medium heat. Whisk consistently bringing the pudding to a boil and boiling for 2 minutes (the pudding will begin to thicken at this point). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool the pudding in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Strawberry Pudding Cake by Foodell.com

unsalted butter for greasing the pan
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups sliced fresh organic strawberries, hulls removed
1 cup organic all-purpose flour (we get flour from NC's own Lindley Mills)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon organic sea salt, finely ground
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg (local, free range)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon organic vanilla

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In a small saucepan combine the 1/3 cup sugar with the water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir to combine then add the berries. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk to combine.
In a large bowl combine the egg, milk, softened butter and vanilla. Combine until well mixed then add the flour mixture, whisking only until combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Pour the berry mixture evenly over the batter. (Note: berries will sink into batter.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center portion of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

¡Buen provecho!