Strawberry Lime Yogurt Cake

Strawberry Lime Yogurt CakeI love the overabundance of fruit and veggies in the summer. Not only because it means there are more options of what to make, but also because it’s a challenge to discover new recipes and create your own in using up what you have on hand. Some of my tastiest dishes have come out of staring into the deep abyss of the refrigerator, or at a dwindling fruit bowl, and thinking, “What am I going to make with these remnants?” or, shamefully/more realistically, “What should I make with all of this before it’s past its prime?” The latter is exactly what occurred a few weeks ago when I overbought on strawberries thinking I was making shortcake for a party and then changing my mind at the last minute. It’s not like it’s hard to just eat strawberries – they’re my favorite of all the berries – but they take a turn for the worse so quickly that having them around, without a plan, makes me fret. Those red beauties aren’t cheap! Strawberry Lime Yogurt CakeSeeing them looking back at me from their front-and-center spot in the fridge made me start hunting around for flavors that pair well and before I knew it, I had limes and was on my way to a baked good of some sort. Inspired by all of the gorgeous strawberry buttercream-topped desserts I keep seeing online, I knew I wanted to make a cake, but didn’t have the energy or the ingredients to go in that direction. Instead, I thought a loaf cake of sorts would be just the ticket and with the added bonus of having some yogurt on hand, things quickly took shape. The yogurt and sour cream combo in this cake keeps the crumb super moist, but also lighter than if you used only sour cream. The tang of both plays well with the sweetness of the berries and mirrors the lime, which makes everything feel so fresh and summery. Because when I think “lime,” I almost always think of “coconut,” I substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil and put some unsweetened flakes in the batter too; the result was subtle, allowing the strawberries and lime to shine, but present enough that it gave the cake a bit of a tropical feel.

Strawberry Lime Yogurt CakeServed with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, ice cream, or just on its own, this cake is the perfect light, refreshing end to a summer meal. It also makes a great gift to welcome a new neighbor or to say “thank you!” to a friend because it’s a small, easy-to-transport cake with not a lot of frills to make it messy. Plus, it’s pretty as a picture. What a keeper!

Strawberry Lime Yogurt Cake
Yields one loaf cake; adapted from here.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt (whole-milk is preferred, but non/low-fat works well too because of the sour cream addition)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, plus 1 teaspoon or so for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using approximately one teaspoon of melted coconut oil, grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the 1-1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt, and add the unsweetened coconut flakes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, one cup of sugar, eggs, lime zest, vanilla, and coconut oil. Slowly add the dry ingredients, a bit at a time, into the wet ingredients and whisk gently until all is combined. Toss the strawberries in the remaining tablespoon of flour and fold gently into the batter. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a cake tester is inserted into the center and comes out clean. While the cake is finishing cooking, cook the 1/3 cup of lime juice and remaining one tablespoon of sugar together in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat and set aside. When the cake is finished baking, allow it to cool for 10 minutes and then gently flip it out onto a cooling rack. Put the cooling rack over a sheet pan or cutting board to prepare for glazing. While the cake is still warm, poke a few holes into the top with a fork or a skewer and then pour the lime-sugar syrup over the cake and allow it to soak into the cake. If desired, sprinkle with some additional coconut flakes – I would have done this, but ran out! Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

Berry Scones with Orange Cardamom Glaze

I, easily, fall victim to the bounty of fruits and vegetables that flood the supermarket this time of year; sometimes, to the point of detriment. In that I’ll be so overwhelmed with all of the delicious, fresh offerings that I’ll buy a few too many tomatoes or an extra pound of peaches and then scramble for ways to use them as I notice them starting to go soft a week or two later. I always find something to do with them, but sometimes it makes for some mismatched meals.

Luckily, I always know what to do when I have berries on their way South, which is exactly the situation I found myself in this week after I had stocked up on some good strawberry and blueberry sales a week or so prior. I’d already eaten many of them on their own, dotted on top of cereal, blended into smoothies (some of which were actually milkshakes that I called “smoothies,” shhh!), and even in a balsamic vinaigrette I’d made poured over grilled chicken atop salad. Delicious! When I happened on their overripe siblings yesterday while searching for a snack, I knew I wanted to use them in a sweeter application, but also something that could handle and disguise the fact that they were past their prime.

Muffins? Sure, muffins are delicious, but why make muffins when you can have their sophisticated cousin, scones? Have you properly met? Scones are simple to execute, but sound and look special, maybe even snooty! Undoubtedly this is because of their being good, proper teatime fare. Scones, though, prove themselves worthy of the fuss. They have a much dryer crumb than the muffin, but in their airiness, they are also deliciously buttery and light all at once. With blueberries and strawberries folded in, they make for a slightly sweet breakfast treat on their own or accompanied with butter and jam for spreading. Better yet, spoon on some clotted cream and lose sense of everything else happening around you. True story: Bear thought I should make clotted cream to accompany this post. Like it was NBD. Like I should just get to it after I churn some fresh butter or something.

Anyway, these scones are delightful in their simplicity as is, but bumped up with the addition of a quick glaze of orange and cardamom that adds a different kind of sweetness and a bit of spice. When it hits the hot scones, the glaze gives off a wonderful scent of citrus with warm notes similar to ginger and cinnamon. The glaze is the perfect compliment to the roasted berry flavor and, because they’re a sturdier crumb, the scones hold up to the glaze well. This is a pairing of flavors I think I’ll come back to again and again.

Mixed Berry Scones with Orange & Cardamom Glaze
Yields 8 scones

Ingredients:
For the scones
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cold butter
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh berries of your choice

For the glaze
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons of orange zest
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon of butter
1 small pinch of cardamom (a little goes a long way!)

Directions:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and then mix it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or a fork. When finished, the mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour and butter mixture gently until just incorporated; if a bit of dry crumb remains on the bottom, that’s fine, you just don’t want to over-mix.

Dump the ingredients onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Sprinkle the berries (I used blueberries and strawberries; with the latter, you’ll want to dry them a bit with a paper towel after dicing and before integrating them into the dough) in an even layer onto the dough and then fold it over onto itself. Repeat this process once more or until all berries are incorporated throughout the dough. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the dough is refrigerating, make the glaze by combining the above ingredients and set aside. When you are ready to roll out the scones, preheat the oven to 400°F and transfer the disk of dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the disk into 8 wedges with a sharp knife or pizza cutter and assemble the wedges on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Leave a few inches of space between wedges, as they will grow in size as they bake. Bake the scones for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. After 5 minutes, transfer to a baking rack to cool.

If planning to serve that day, drizzle glaze over warm scones and enjoy. If not, store the cooled stones in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, warm them and apply glaze before eating.

A Visit Home & My Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake

3 of the 13 dozen eggs I dyed for a (flustered) family friend’s Easter event.

My blogging has been a bit lagging lately only because I had to make an unexpected trip home to my mother’s house, my childhood home. Everyone and everything is fine, so it’s been a good visit, filled, so far, with lots of laughter and food. Time spent home is generally happy, as I get to see some of my most favorite people – my mom, grandma, and bestie who comes in from the city to lounge around in the country with us. Here are some photos of what being home has looked like so far.

Love at First Sight: New-to-me vintage desk!

My mom and grandmother are my two best sources for being inspired to make my own home a space that nourishes and makes comfortable anyone who comes through the door. For as long as I can remember, they have both always gone above and beyond to demonstrate love, care, and friendship through their domestic prowess. People who have come for a meal at my mom’s house, or who have stayed the night for a visit or en route to another destination, have always commented on the warmth they felt at her table, at the comfort felt at slipping into a bed made fresh with sheets and blankets hung to dry in the sun.

I’m a work in progress (still trying to learn their love of cleaning), but by example, they’ve taught me how to build my own sense of “home” with the intention of making it as welcoming to others as it is for me. Oh, how this dream will only be further realized when I, someday, have a guest room of my own and don’t, instead, need to make up the couch for visitors. Apartment or house, no guestroom or 3 guestrooms, though, there will always be my mother’s strawberry shortcake to welcome in friends both old and new.

This isn’t strawberry shortcake in the traditional sense of the dryer, flakier, individual biscuit-like cakes, but a moist, vanilla, 13×9-inch cake with strawberries and cream layered on top. I love conventional shortcake, but since this is what I grew up calling “shortcake,” this is where my heart is.

My mother has always made this cake with a mixture of fresh and frozen strawberries; the former for the texture and the latter for the moistness they give the cake. I’ve made it on my own with entirely fresh and just sliced the strawberries 2 hours before serving with a little sugar, which produced a natural syrup that did the same job as the frozen berries. Depending on what you have access to and when you want to make it, this cake can be an any time of year stunner.

Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake
Yields one 13×9-inch cake, ~12 servings

For the cake:
1-1/4 cups of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups of white sugar
3/4 cups of milk
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

For the topping:
1lb. frozen, sliced strawberries, thawed
2lbs. fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of white sugar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°, grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs for 4 minutes with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed for an additional 4-5 minutes until light and airy. Add the flour mixture slowly and beat on low speed until combined.

In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk and butter together until the latter melts. Drizzle into batter along with the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake completely.

In a chilled bowl, add heavy cream and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and soft peaks form. With the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the surface of the cake and pour frozen strawberries and juice over the top of the cake. Add the juice slowly, so that you can account for how much you want to use. Add the fresh strawberries to the top and then cover with the freshly whipped cream. This will last in the refrigerator, covered, for 5-7 days.