Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living Without (sort of)

In the midst of my [very slow] move, I have realized I've been taking several things for granted in my life.  These things are:

A dishwasher.

Counter space in the kitchen.

Garbage disposal.


Modern outlets (see: grounded outlets).

Washer and Dryer located in a well-lit, ventilated area.  Also located in a non-scary section of the house.

Efficient air conditioning.

I'm sure at times in my life, I've considered the idea of living as they would in Victorian times... or at least in the 50s.  Romanticizing these eras is easy to do from the comfort of a well-cooled living room or while loading a brand new dishwasher.  How quickly we forget the convenience of a garbage disposal or tampons.

Tampons.  That's a convenience to really get behind right there.

Now I'm not saying I haven't been able to afford (or obtain) tampons.  Heavens no.  What I am saying is I've come to appreciate certain modern marvels like updated wiring in a home leaving me enough outlets so that I don't have to wait to toast my bread after the coffee is done brewing.  This is not 1952, so why force myself to live like it?  If I want to do that, I'll just put on a frilly dress and bake something.  You know... just another Tuesday night.

This is not to say I don't enjoy my time spent in my current living situation.  We have a big eat-in kitchen nook thing with great light from the outside.  There's a large backyard with big trees and our neighbors chicken coop.  And the wood flooring is absolutely beautiful when it's clean and polished (the one time I did it).  I love the location and the original windows (when they aren't rattling).  But I'm sorry... there is just nothing on this earth you can convince me is more beneficial to my addiction love of cooking and baking than a dish washer.  NOTHING.

For the next week (or two), I will not be posting much.  As if you haven't noticed.

No... this moving thing has forced me to box up my bakeware, which has left me with very little to do in my free time.  Not okay.  No wonder I've been grumpy pants - I can't make towering stacks of fat and flour!

So while slowly get my crap from three locations and force them into one, I wanted to share something I'd been saving for just this sort of occasion.  Things don't always need to be complicated, and this cake is a great example of just that.  Roasted strawberries are simply dressed in olive oil, salt, and maple syrup.  I'm not even kidding about the olive oil or salt.  When they were roasting it smelled like those strawberry candies my grandmother used to have lying around the house.

The cake is dense, moist, and has a fine crumb so as not to make a huge mess.  I suggest it for breakfast, lunch, and post-dinner.  Dinner cake would be too much.

Or would it?

This cake is so simple that you really only need two bowls and two pans to make it in.  And if you were really getting down to the wire, you could even use the cake pan to roast your berries.  That is if you had all your crap boxed up and you were really jonsing for this cake.  Which you should.  Because it's delicious.  Not too sweet, dense, and has that fantastically satisfying pop of crunch when you bite down on a poppyseed.  You could even add in some lemon zest and rub it into the turbinado sugar topping for crazy brightness of flavor.  Don't like strawberries?  Why not plumbs?  Or raspberries?  Blueberries would be wonderful, and blackberries with dark chocolate would work magic into it.

Oh god.  I need to stop.

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 pint medium strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of sea salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I used fig-flavored)
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons poppyseeds (optional)
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)

*preheat the oven to 375 degrees - line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper*

In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt.  Place the quartered berries in a bowl, drizzle the oil and syrup mixture over top, and toss to coat.  Pour onto the prepared cookie sheet, spread out into a single layer, and roast for 40 minutes.

When the berries have roasted, remove them from the oven and place into a bowl.  Drizzle the vinegar over the top, toss gently, and let cool in the bowl.

*raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees - prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by buttering the bottom and sides*

Meanwhile, make the cake.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, buttermilk, and butter.  Whisk in the vanilla. Pour all at once into the dry mixture, then stir together until completely mixed.  Add the poppyseeds  and stir.  Pour the prepared cake batter into the pan, then dot the top with the strawberries and all the their juices.  Sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar.

Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Best served within two days of baking.  Keep plastic wrapped at room temperature.

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