The strawberries are here! The strawberries are here! I anticipate strawberry season all year. I know you can buy strawberries every day now, but there is nothing like a fresh, seasonal, locally grown berry. So I wait. I may use some frozen berries during the out-of season-months, but I rarely buy the berries in the produce section. The farmers markets here open mid-April before strawberry season begins, but things get exciting once the strawberries arrive. All this waiting makes the berries even sweeter, and as they fade, I look forward to the next berry harvest – blueberries and raspberries.
All this means I make the most of strawberry season at its peak. I call this morning cake, because it makes a wonderful breakfast or brunch treat, not too sweet, but hearty and fresh with the burst of juicy berries. It has a lovely grainy, nutty texture from the almond meal that sets this apart from a typical coffee cake. The drizzle of creamy almond glaze ups the sweetness (you can certainly leave it off) and adds an extra hit of almond flavor. I am not, of course, saying this couldn’t be served as dessert with a scoop of ice cream or a pillow of whipped cream.
Strawberry almond morning cake
For the cake:
1 pound strawberries
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-3/4 cup ground almond meal
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Hull the strawberries and reserve 5 or 6 pretty ones to top the cake. Dice the remaining berries into small pieces.
3. Beat the butter and the sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and making sure the first is incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in a small bowl, then beat into the batter on low speed, scraping the bowl as needed. When the flour is fully incorporated, beat in the almond meal and cream just until combined.
5. Spread half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. The batter will be thick, and I find it easiest to use lightly wet, clean hands to press it in an even layer. Sprinkle the diced berries over the batter in an even layer, pressing them lightly into the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the top and use wet hands to press it in evenly over the top of the berries. Do your best to cover everything, but if a few little berries are poking out, it’s OK. Decorate the top of the batter with some strawberry halves if you’d like.
6. Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top is firm and golden. Cool the cake completely.
For the drizzle:
1-3/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Whisk the confectioner’s sugar cream and extract together in a small bowl until smooth and drizzle-able. Use a spoon to artistically drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and leave to set.
2. Slice into squares and serve.
Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Strawberry curd and almond cookies