cake for an abundance of berries

by Stacy

One can never have too many organic, local strawberries, right? That’s what I thought until I was faced with nine pounds of them.

strawberry field forever

How did we end up with nine pounds of strawberries? It was an accident. Sort of. You know how strawberries have been really cheap this year? Cold weather in Florida delayed their crop to coincide with the California peak season to saturate the market. Our CSA grows strawberries, but this late in the season with such a glut of berries it’s not cost-effective to pay people to harvest them since the selling price is so low.

Instead they opened up their fields for gleaning, in this case like a temporary U-pick situation. My husband and I drove down on Saturday morning, spent 30-45 minutes in the strawberry rows, and waltzed out $22 poorer in cash and 9 pounds richer in produce. We conferred after about five pounds and decided to pick “just a few more.” The spot we chose was so full of berries that we ended up with more than a few. Oops.

strawberry field forever

This photo is only half. They’re irresistible! How can you walk past those and not pick them? I sure couldn’t. Neither could my husband.

That night we had dinner with some friends at Sea Rocket Bistro, a restaurant that actually sources some of its produce from our CSA and was named the most sustainable seafood restaurant in San Diego. The food and the ambiance was enjoyed by all. When the waitress tried to entice us into ordering dessert I explained that we had picked an awful lot of the same strawberries featured on their menu, but ours were at home being macerated in liqueur waiting to be served over cake. This cake.

french lemon yogurt cake

She asked if she could come with us for dessert.

I had to underexpose the photos and lower the saturation because the cake was so yellow! There is no butter in this cake and only 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. The rich color is just because of the eggs I used; the yolks are so orange that the cake is several shades darker than might be normal.

It’s a wonderful cake — simple, moist, and tender, not too sweet. The basic recipe is from Molly at Orangette with so many options for variations. I knew I wanted to pair it with a heap of strawberries so I kept the original suggestion of lemon and only made minor adjustments this time. I can barely wait to make it again so I can try other variations!

The strawberries were really the focus but I wanted to jazz them up a touch. Rinsed, hulled, and sliced, tossed with just a touch of sugar to get the juices flowing and then a soak in a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier softened them right up while the cake baked.

yogurt cake with strawberries

The cake was a nice alternative to an angel food or pound cake for soaking up strawberry juice but still has enough pizazz to stand on its own if needed. Our dinner companions accompanied us home for cake and strawberries, but unlike dinner, dessert was mainly accompanied by the clink of forks on plates instead of conversation. Second helpings may have been involved.

This cake is so easy there’s no excuse not to make it soon. One bowl, one pan, one happy cake.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Barely Boozy Strawberries

Adapted from Orangette
Make one 9-inch round cake

For the berries
1-2 pounds strawberries, preferably organic
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

For the cake
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup olive oil (preferably fruity)

For the glaze
juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1.) Rinse and hull strawberries. Slice in halves or quarters. Add sugar and Grand Marnier and toss to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2.) Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper if desired. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together yogurt, sugar, and eggs. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and lemon zest, stir just until incorporated. Add the oil and mix until the batter comes back together.

3.) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes until the center is springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4.) When cake is completely cool, whisk together sugar and lemon juice to form a thin syrup. Drizzle over cake, letting it soak in. Serve cake with a generous helping of strawberries.

yogurt cake with strawberries

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

tater1112 May 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

Jam! I can’t wait until it’s time to pick berries here!


Bridget May 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Yeesh. I’m lucky if I can get a pound of non-organic strawberries for $3 that aren’t mushy. Sigh. I need to move from the desert to California, clearly.


Stacy May 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

What was that? I couldn’t hear you behind this giant heap of local avocados…


mom May 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I was inspired by this recipe, and the fact that both you and Sara were doing strawberries this past week, so made it today for Jerry’s birthday. We all enjoyed it and I made 2 cakes so Jerry could take one home. Had no Grand Marnier so used Triple Sec. It worked fine!! This is a keeper.


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