Strawberry Cake

By Beacon Staff

Strawberries are a classic summer delight. They are delicious with Greek yogurt, short cakes or Chantilly cream or just by themselves. When cleaned, chilled and crisp to the bite, they are a perfect snack for a hot summer day. This splendid dessert features a buttery short-crust pastry base topped with baked strawberries and a light cinnamon-scented cream. Add a teaspoon of lemon zest to the dough for a citrus zip, and you will have a refreshing dessert that will please all of your summer guests’ palates.

For the dough:
2 1/2 sticks soft butter, unsalted
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

Mix butter and flour with your fingertips on the counter until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Shape ingredients into a mound, and make a well in the center. Add vanilla, egg yolks and sugar to the well. Mix ingredients fairly quickly using your fingertips so butter does not melt in order to prevent the dough from drying and becoming tough. Shape dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Note: You can allow the dough to sit for up to 24 hours afterwards. You also can freeze the dough for up to two weeks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured counter. Butter the bottom of a 9-inch spring cake pan. Place dough into pan, and cover with wax paper to fit the pan. Top wax paper with 2 cups of dried beans or rice to prevent air pockets from forming while baking the crust. Bake crust for 20 minutes. Remove wax paper and the beans or rice. Set cake pan aside.

For the filling:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup and 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 soft lady fingers
1 pound and 2 ounces strawberries
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat egg yolks with cream, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl until mixture is pale. Crumble in lady fingers. Set aside for 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender, and blend until completely smooth. Remove strawberry stems, and slice strawberries half-length wise. Spread strawberries on the par-baked crust. Pour lady finger mixture on top of strawberries. Return cake to oven. Crust should bake until golden brown for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to over bake the crust to prevent dryness.

Remove cake from oven. Allow it to cool at room temperature on a rack. Once completely cooled, remove cake from spring pan and dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.

The strawberry cake is lovely by itself. However, if choose to indulge further, add vanilla bean ice cream or Chantilly cream for heavenly bliss.

I hope this recipe will become one of your summer staples. Please email me your feedback at chefhmk@gmail.com. Bon Appétit!

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