Strawberry Wonder

This, folks, is a pile of heaven.  It’s essentially a giant strawberry shortcake, but with a spongy vanilla cake, homemade whipped cream, and a quart of sliced berries.  Mmm.  I bet it’d be good with peaches, too, later this summer, or any other ripe fruit you have, like raspberries.  Mm, mm, that would be good.

Oh, and hi.  It’s been about six months.

The cake underneath the mountain of whipped cream here is a riff on Orangette’s yogurt cake, which you can find here:  orangette.blogspot.com/2004/08/slow-roasting.htm.  It’s a nice, easy recipe using ‘jar’ measurements like the French–each jar is about 1/2c.  It’s a recipe that’s endlessly variable, which turned out to be a very good thing for me.

My plan was to make the cake, plain and simple, but I had problems from the start. I had to get ingredients first thing in the morning–I popped into Trader Joe’s right after it opened at 8–and they didn’t have a small plain yogurt, and I didn’t have time to go anywhere else.  So I got a vanilla.

I got home and started putting the recipe together without putting much thought into it,  and dumped the whole cup of yogurt into the bowl rather than measuring a half cup jar.  Oops.

I was grateful then that I’ve been baking long enough to be able to have an idea of how to salvage the cake, and I ended up baking a delicious little number.  First, I figured out how much yogurt I’d put in the bowl by filling the cup up with water and dumping that into a measuring cup.  Then, remembering that you can sometimes sub yogurt for oil to cut calories and fat, I altered the amount of oil in the recipe to account for several extra tablespoons of yogurt.  I also cut back the sugar, since the yogurt was sweetened and I didn’t want a terribly sweet cake.  The cake is really variable here because you actually stir the sugar into until it melts–usually sugar, creamed with butter, is what gives structure to a cake by providing something the flour can work with to create air pockets (thank you, Alton Brown–just get to the 8 minute mark and he’ll explain).

I cut the citrus in the original recipe out altogether, added a splash of vanilla extract, and popped the cake into the oven.  When it was done I let it cool, removed it from the pan, and used  a long serrated knife to slice it into two layers.

In the meantime, I beat a pint of whipping cream until it was thick, added 1.5 T of sugar, and beat it until it had gentle peaks.  I slathered some on the bottom cake layer and added a little more than half of my sliced berries.  Then I did it again.

This will last a couple of days in the fridge before it becomes questionable, but I don’t think it stands a chance of making it many days without being eaten.  Yum!  Summer on a plate.

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