One of life's pleasures is getting to eat perfect strawberries - deeply red, firm but ripe and so aromatic that your mouth waters just at the very first whiff of the fruit. The perfectly ripe strawberry doesnt need sugar or cream, in my opinion. (I've read that wild strawberries are even more flavourful, and one day I hope to be able to sample some).
I got two punnets of strawberries (although it's not anywhere near strawberry season in the UK yet) on a buy-one-get-one-free basis from Sainsbury's that turned out really lovely. I ate quite a few of them before reluctantly deciding to make the strawberry streusel cake as promised.
The cake was quite nice - Pete liked it very much more than I did. He's easily pleased... give him a cup (or a few dozen cups!) of coffee and a slice of cake, and he and his computer are as happy as clams.
My considered opinion after tasting the cake was: "Not bad". The cake part of it did not turn out to my satisfaction (although, as I said, Pete loved it) - it seemed a bit too gluey, with very little crumb. But perhaps that's because I used Splenda instead of sugar in the batter. The topping didnt contain any Splenda...it wouldnt have worked quite right, anyway.
It was really at its best warm from the oven, with the aroma and flavour of the strawberries melding nicely with the crunchy streusel topping. And talking about the topping - I made way more than I required. No, not by choice. Sometimes things get out of hand in the quantities department... especially when I dont keep a mental eye on what I'm doing (hmm... there's got to be a better way of saying that, but I hope the meaning is clearer than the expression!).
Anyway, there was so much topping left over that I kept some by for another day.
Back to the cake - I'd say it would be best stored in the refrigerator after Day One, and each serving thereafter re-heated in the microwave. I guess some nice thick cream wouldnt go amiss at this point, to serve with the cake. It doesnt keep well because of the fresh strawberry content. But it's not at all bad when it's warm from the oven!
Recipe for: Strawberry streusel cake
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tablespoons melted butter
1-1/2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used demerara sugar for extra crunch)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts
1. Grease and dust with flour a 7" round baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
3. Make a well in the middle and add the vanilla essence, the egg and melted butter (make sure it's not hot, or the egg will cook!). Beat this till well mixed.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Level with the back of a wet spoon. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the top, without pressing them into the batter.
5. In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugar for the topping. Cut in the butter with two knives, or rub it in with your fingertips till the mixture is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
6. Mix in the pecan nuts and sprinkle thickly over the batter.
7. Bake at 180C/350F for 35-40 minutes or till the cake is done.
Serve hot plain, or warm with a scoop of thick cream or icecream, as per taste.