Growing up, I remember having an extreme dislike for strawberries. Actually, not strawberries, but strawberry-flavoured ice-cream. They were a pale, calamine lotion-pink (Yuck!) that bear no taste resemblance to real strawberries. None.
So for a long time, I never had anything made with strawberries until I’d tasted the actual strawberry fruit when I was 15. You see, in Singapore, we don’t grow most of our food so almost everything’s imported from near and far. So until the last 2 decades or so, fresh, juicy strawberries were very expensive and hard to come by. These days, it’s a different story as we get plenty of fresh continental fruits almost year round.
So back to my first taste of fresh strawberries. I distinctly remember having been so excited to have had tasted delicious strawberries in London during a Girl Guide trip there one summer and I tried to bring some back in my overhead airplane compartment. Epic failure. The strawberries became mush and the flight attendant wasn’t pleased.
Fresh whole strawberries have such a short shelf that if you do buy them, eat or use them asap. With an abundance of beautiful strawberries these days, you’ll never go wrong with this cake. It’s a fuss-free, minimum bowl/s and very delicious loaf cake. Over the past week, I’ve made 4 loaves and not person I’ve given it to stopped at one slice. The recipe doesn’t call for the use of any butter but with its use of fresh, luscious strawberries, strawberry jam and vegetable oil, the cake crumbs are moist yet fluffy. And oh. The crust is slightly crunchy from the demerara sprinkling. Moist, fluffy, mildly sweet, addictive and ‘crunchy’ crust. So why aren’t you making this cake yet ?
Moist Strawberry Loaf Cake
(Adapted slightly from Saveur)
Makes 2 (9 x 5 inch) loaves
- 360g / 3 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 400g / 2 cups sugar*
- 350 ml/ 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil (grapeseed / rice bran or canola)
- 4 large eggs
- approx. 600 g / 4 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup strawberry jam
- generous sprinkle of Demerara sugar
*If your strawberries and strawberry jam are very sweet, reduce sugar to 1 and 1/2 cups
To begin, heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf tins and line the bottom of the loaf lengthwise with an extra long lining that makes it easier to lift out your baked cakes in the end.
Whisk plain flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon & cardamom and salt in a large mixing bowl. Take a handful of sifted flour and dust over quartered strawberries. Set both aside. In a another medium bowl or in the measuring jug you used to measure your oil, whisk the eggs, oil, sugar and pour into bowl with dry ingredients. With a large whisk or wooden spoon, mix until mixture is just slightly lumpy. Throw in strawberries dusted with flour and gently mix until just combined.
Pour into prepared loaf tins. With a spoon, drop huge spoonfuls of jam on top of batter in a haphazard way ( for the rebel bakers) or in some sort of a checker board patter like in this cake. Using a paring or palette knife, swirl the jam into the cake batter in continuous ‘S’ shape motions to create the swirls. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar on top.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes until skewer inserted in non-jam part comes out clean. Cover with foil after 40 minutes if your oven has a notorious reputation for burning cake tops. Cool completely in tin before serving.
According to the original recipe, any fruit could be used instead of strawberries. I’m thinking plums, apricots or blueberries. It also states that strawberry jam is optional but let me stress that it’s not. Trust me. The jam creates a wonderful contrast to the fresh strawberries.
I gave 2 loaves to my mum and mum-in-law on Mother’s day and later wishes I had made more so I’ve bought more punnets of strawberries to make more loaves this weekend !