I know. Mondays are hard. The week kind of yawns out in front of you, and you kind of get the feeling that nothing worthwhile is really going to happen until next a whole FIVE days from now, except e-mails and phone calls and maybe the dog will get into the garbage again to give you a little break from cleaning up normal house messes and making boring sandwiches to eat at work and…
Sometimes it’s just too much to bear. So, without further ado, I am instituting Monday Cake Day. Have you ever had a day that wasn’t vastly improved by either making or eating a cake? I think not. Because I really think that sometimes, it not necessarily eating cake that makes me so happy (although, let’s be honest, it makes me pretty darn happy), but making a cake that really brightens my mood. Maybe it’s that when you make a cake, you’re anticipating a celebration. Or maybe it’s something about the way it makes the whole house smell like vanilla and butter. All I know is, there is no way making a cake can end in grumpiness.
Oh, wait, unless you’re ME. Because just when I’m pretty proud of myself for making a sweet little something to brighten a sad old Monday and feeling very impressive for being so put together, things are bound to take some disastrous turn. I thought I was out of the baking danger zone (which, incidentally, varies from person to person, but usually my danger zone is somewhere between putting something in the oven and taking it out- I don’t do well with timers). My cake was still in the pan on the rack, almost cooled , and I was a little excited to dig in… Somehow the simple act of flipping it onto the cake plate proved too tough to handle for me, and this lovely cake wound up smooshed between my right hip and the front of the stove.
Lucky for me, the husband got to me before the pup did, and we manage to perform some kind of yoga maneuver to get the mashed up cake back onto the plate. And now for the Cake Day miracle: it survived! There was a little bit of a mushed portion that was a little worse for the wear and the stove definitely needed a cleaning, but for the most part, the cake remained in its cake-ish form.
So, I pieced it back together, put it on a pretty stand and put a cake dome on it. It’s the best I could do on a Monday. Cake domes cover a multitude of sins. And then I took the dome off, and proceeded to eat multiple slices of this delicious cake. And it really is delicious. It’s an old stand-by, one that I turn to all the time. You can use whatever berries you have around, and it always turns out awesome. Even when you drop it. Enjoy.
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
adapted from this Gourmet recipe, I think
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh quartered strawberries, (about 5 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan. I lined the bottom with parchment paper, because it makes it so much easier to remove the baked cake. I’m pretty sure this is what saved my cake by keeping it in one piece when I dropped it. So if you’re a klutz, this is also recommended. If you fold a square of parchment in half, then fold that piece in half, and then again (think paper snowflakes!), it’s very easy to make a perfect fitting circle.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a larger bowl, beat the butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add the egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mix until just combined.
Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing the top. Scatter strawberry pieces evenly over the top and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate, and then repeat, so that the beautiful crispy, sparkly crust is on top.