From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...An unexpected flush of small field strawberries and a photo I had seen on the Huffington Post led to the dessert I'm featuring tonight. I was able to trace the origins of the dish back to an old issue of Food and Wine magazine and a recipe that had been developed for them by Gerald Craft. I love old-fashioned desserts and this one harkened back to the English crumbs and crumbles that I so enjoy. There was, however, a twist. The base of the dessert was a quantity of stewed berries, three pounds worth. The berries were covered with cake batter and topped with a layer of crumbs. I was curious to see if stewed berries retained enough flavor to compete with the other elements that topped them. This is why we test, and this is why the success or failure of a recipe depends on individual taste as well as the developers vision. Some will love this, others will view it as a curiosity and move on to other things. I am in the later camp. While the fault may be found in the way I handled them, I don't think the stewed berries added much, save expense, to this dessert and I will not be making it again. Mine, by the way is a minority opinion, so, please don't be put off by my comments. Here's the recipe for those of you who would like to try it in your own kitchen. Be sure to serve this warm.
Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by a Gerald Craft recipe from Food and Wine magazine
Filling3 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (8 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2-1/2 tablespoons of water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Crumb Topping1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
generous pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
Cake2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1) To make filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch slurry and vanilla seeds and let stand until berries release some of their juices, about 30 minutes. Pour fruit filling into a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish set on a sturdy baking sheet.
2) To make crumb topping: Combine light brown sugar, flour, butter and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Mix ingredients, using fingers, until a coarse meal forms. Press into small clumps.
3) To make cake: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, use a handheld electric mixer and beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in extract, scraping down sides of bowl. Add dry ingredients to batter in three additions alternating with buttermilk.
4) To finish: Spoon batter over fruit filling, spreading it to edges of pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake in center of oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling, crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer pan to a rack to cool slightly. Serve crumb cake warm or at room temperature. Yield: 8 servings.
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