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You know what they say about birds of a feather. The people I really connect with are those who are passionate about books and reading or are foodies – those whose eyes sparkle whenever food is so much as mentioned. I implicitly trust these people’s recommendations – whether about books or food. When Aditi, who is such a friend to me, mentioned a certain heavenly strawberry cake on facebook, it stayed in my mind for weeks and I knew I had to, had to try it. But I still kept putting it off, waiting for a special occasion for a special cake. Actually, this cake classifies as an every-day cake, so I needn’t have, really. But then, I (ahem) shouldn’t be eating cake everyday!

When we didn’t party on New Years eve, it became imperative that something special be done at least on the 1st to welcome the new year in style. It’s very important to start well, don’t you think? The strawberry cake beckoned and I could resist it no longer.

The thing about this cake is that it takes its few and easy to find ingredients and turns them into such a tra-la-la-la-la-la delightful dessert that you can’t help but moan with pleasure. After you’ve eaten your first slice, and by the sheer dint of will power, put the rest of the cake away for tomorrow, you’ll find yourself day dreaming about it with sweet anticipation. Unless of course you have absolutely no self control, and eat a second slice right away and then another (but don’t be too hard on yourself – such things are known to happen when the object of desire is so tempting). You wouldn’t worry about finishing it all and having nothing left for tomorrow, because it is after all so easy to make! (Why else do you think I went gaga when it turned out to be so good!) Oh! And all the Cake Goddesses who made the Apple Pecan Cake can add one more classy recipe to their repertoire.

This absolute joy of a cake must be shared with all. Here’s a slightly tweaked version of SmittenKitchen’s recipe.

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Prep Time : 20 minutes
Baking time : 50-60 minutes
Makes : One 8.5″ cake

WHAT YOU NEED :

4.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for cake pan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour / Maida
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

WHAT YOU DO :

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl, beat 4.5 tbsp butter and 3/4 cup sugar for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla extract and milk and give it another whisk until combined.
  4. In small batches, mix in the flour mixture using a spatula. Take care to not over-mix and stop as soon as its just mixed in.
  5. Butter an 8.5″ or 9″ cake pan liberally with the remaining butter. Spoon in the prepared batter. Cover the entire surface with the halved strawberries, cut face down. As far as possible, do not overlap. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of the strawberries to help them turn into jam.
  6. Bake in the center of the oven at 350° F for 10 minutes and reduce the temperature to 325° F. Continue baking for 50-60 minutes until the cake is done and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean except for gooey strawberry jam.
  7. Cool before serving.

MY NOTES:

The slow baking allowed plenty of time for the strawberries and sugar to turn half way into jam and the juices of the berries to seep into the cake. The sugar that falls in the cracks imparts a crunchy sweet crust to the cake – this, to me, seemed like a bonus, over and above the promised wonders of the cake!

The prolonged stay in the oven also lets the cake get wonderfully golden-brown sides and base.

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