It's spring here in The Berkshires and everything is surging with life! With the night time temperatures remaining very warm, it seems like each morning I wake to a whole new host of neighbors that have popped up in my yard in the form of wild foods. We have covered a ton of foraged foods lately on social media so with this post I wanted to focus on something that has been cultivated in my garden; the beautiful strawberry.
I have strong feelings on eating seasonally for many reasons, but the main one is flavor. My feelings are so strong that I won't touch certain items out of season with a ten foot pole. I mean come on, tomatoes in the middle of December? If I wanted crispy water I'd go outside and dig it out of the snowbank.
Spring is the only time it matters (from a flavor standpoint) to gorge yourself on strawberries; the one caveat being you either have to grow them or get them from a local farm. A quarter sized strawberry has 10 times the flavor of one of those fist sized California mutant clamshell berries. Now, of course, this is just my opinion but you know I am not wrong. The local berries are worth the wait and the clammer for few short week that they pay us a visit.
Desserts for our events are actually kept simple to really give the main ingredient the center stage to shine. We will prepare a few kinds of desserts but generally stick to the ones that people enthusiastically request - Fire Baked Cast Iron Skillet Cakes and Hot Dipped, Jam Filled Beignets. A while back I posted a picture on our social media about how excited I was for Strawberry season to be upon us and someone asked for the recipe from the picture, so here we are.
Another side not here is that we have the luck to have a wonderful local food distributor in our area by the name of Marty's Local. This gives us access to work with local flours and grains, all of the time. This recipe highlights Farmer Grounds Flour's cornmeal. So, dairy, strawberries, sweet cornmeal, do I have your attention now?
CAST IRON STRAWBERRY SKILLET CAKE
Yield: one 10" cast iron skillet
2 pints local strawberries, halved
1 tablespoon sugar
a big squeeze of lemon juice
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Preheat over to 375 degree oven.
Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and let macerate.
Cream the butter and sugar together. First, add one egg and mix until fully incorporated. Next, add half the milk and mix until incorporated. Mix in the last egg followed by the remaining milk until fully incorporated and set aside.
Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and whisk to combine . Add the flour mixture to the creamed milk and sugar bowl. Mix until it is smooth.
Strain strawberries and reserve the syrup. Spoon half the cake batter into a 10" cast iron skillet (or baking dish) followed by half of the strawberries. Pour the rest of the batter over the strawberries and top the batter with the remaining strawberries. Swirl in as much reserved strawberry syrup as you like on top. Move the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester come out clean.
Enjoy a warm slice with an ice cold scoop of vanilla ice cream.