Strawberry Cake with Cream
My first cake attempt after moving to a sailboat had to be good. Think layers, fresh fruit, infused flavors; all the things that make mouths water in the salty swampland of Florida. My gut has been coated in Ritz crackers and Barbara's Cheese curls as I've combatted the seasick icks, providing the caloric groundwork fit to erupt a craving unlike any other for continued sugary/carbohydrate infusions. Knowing the temperature would only go up as we garnered more southerly latitudes, I decided a cake was in order and the excitement level aboard went through roof that it blew clear off. Good thing we don't have a roof and the cabin headliner is still intact.
Granted, I had lowered my expectations since I still haven't exactly mastered cookies in a propane oven. Propane has a tendency to dry things out more quickly than natural gas or electric burners do, and anyone who knows me and my baking knows that I have little tolerance (or ability) for dry cake. Since cookies are small and sometimes compact, the dryness factor is magnified if I'm not careful and Rev drags me into a game of Go Fish, or if Kai has me hold a light above his head "just for a minute" while he stuffs himself into a hole the size of a cantaloupe.
I decided that a simple yellow cake filled with a lemon whipped cream and strawberries would be just the thing for my first cake at sea. The cream and strawberries would offset the dryness if the cake turned out more like a southern biscuit, and it's Rev's favorite cake right behind chocolate. Actually, all the cake flavors are Rev's favorite, but I digress.
While exploring Saint Augustine, we found Rype and Reddi, a quaint little farm and market in the heart of urban Saint Augustine. It was even close enough to walk from the city marina where our boat rambled on the rumbly mooring ball. Seriously, on a side note, currents in Saint Augustine are red with fury and running this way and that way in a hot mess of a hurry. Poor boat had her work cut out for her keeping that mooring ball from gashing her.
Rev and I walked down cobblestone streets lined with historic cottages and arrived at the Mecca of local fruits and vegetables. They even had cheese, butter, eggs, local honey, and gobs of other artisan treats. I could have spent hours there rummaging until my fingers had some good old raw Florida dirt on them, but Rev saw strawberries and was quick to say she was ready to go home and eat them. The girl knows what she wants.
I stuffed my backpack with all of the items I could fit and appeased her by buying an extra pint of strawberries in case she decided to plow through her whole basket on the way home. "I'm going to try really hard to save some for daddy, but I can't promise anything," she chattered as we paid. Once outside she took a bite and squealed with joy. "These are the best strawberries I've ever eaten," she proclaimed. I was glad she thought so (maybe after so many store bought non-organic strawberries that I couldn't say no to because they were SO cheap, she was itching for the real thing), but I laughed and told her she must have forgotten the strawberries we used to pick in Bayfield, WI, which I believe are the best the world has to offer.
Anyway, we made it home with enough strawberries to make this cake, which actually turned out amazingly perfect. Perfection in my baking is subjective, as its only definition is "just how I wanted it to turn out." There are no other qualifiers but it is a real treat when other's enjoy it too.
- I used shelf-stable cream for the whipped cream, which isn't the best, but it will do. It can be found at Trader Joes.
- Humidity can play a large part in the end result of cakes. This cake was baked in high humidity. think swamp and sweaty feet levels.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp salt (omit if you use salted butter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups flour
Pour batter into an 8" round pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!