As a kid, I don’t remember much of a fondness for strawberries. I grew up enjoying mangoes picked from the front yard, bananas and mountain apples from the backyard. Also, lychee was at the top of my preferred fruit consumption list. Among grapes, pineapple, nectarines, and peaches. Strawberries were an afterthought. Living in the Pacific Northwest, however, berries show up seasonally and there’s no avoiding them: strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries… I don’t care too much for cooked fruit, unless it’s in a pie or turnover-type dessert. However, my friend Olivia used to make some dank raspberry blondies with candied pecans. Knowing that baked fruit can indeed be delicious, I was intrigued when I saw the following recipe: roasted strawberry buttermilk cake.
The recipe sounded straightforward (always a plus in my book). Fresh strawberries, especially this time of year, are so sweet and delicious fresh. However, if you’ve got the time and don’t mind running your oven in the summer, roasting them adds a completely different dimension. The strawberries soften, turn sugary and candy-like. It’s ridiculous, as far as simplicity and taste are concerned. Really.
Skillet cakes are equally amazing, both in their appearance and easiness. There have been times I’ve done all the batter-preparing straight in my cast-iron skillet (I didn’t do that this time around, but suppose you probably could), creating minimal amounts of dirty dishes for later. This cake is quite moist, soft, and simple. The strawberries that are spooned around the top prior to baking sink down into the batter slightly, creating a beautiful and tasty cake. According to Joy the Baker, you can substitute whatever fruit is ripe, for the strawberries – I’m excited to try that, although for the first time around, this strawberry cake was dynamite.
Do yourself a favor and make one. Or gift this cake to someone you care about. It’s so worth it. So are they. And you.
Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 – 11” cake
For the roasted strawberries:
12 oz. strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks
3 tbsp. good quality maple syrup
4½ tsp. olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
For the cake:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups buttermilk, shaken well
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 recipe of roasted strawberries
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (Make sure the pan is rimmed, as the strawberries will get really juicy and leak out otherwise.)
Prepare the strawberries: In a bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Toss the strawberries in this mixture then spread evenly, in one layer on the parchment paper. Roast for 40 minutes, occasionally stirring. The juices will thicken slightly, but make sure it doesn’t burn! Pour the strawberries and all the juice that is released into a bowl, then drizzle in the balsamic vinegar, stir gently until the vinegar is evenly dispersed. Set the strawberries aside to cool while you prepare the cake batter.
Prepare the cake batter: Preheat the oven to 400º F. Butter an 11” cast-iron skillet. (If you don’t have one, use another oven-proof skillet of the same size. A 9 x 13” pan can also work, but the cake will not be as thick and the cooking time will likely be shorter.)
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl (I just use the measuring cup I measure the buttermilk in), whisk together the vanilla extract, eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just enough to combine everything. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Spoon half the strawberries onto the top of the cake as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar onto the top of the cake and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a few dry crumbs. Pay attention, making sure you don’t over-bake the cake, as it’ll dry out quickly.
Spoon the remaining strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake and serve warm. Any leftovers can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to 3 days.