I believe the strawberry is perhaps a vital food group that has been woven into my genetics.
I probably eat a strawberry about 200 days of the year. It may be an exaggeration, but only by mere weeks.
When I was pregnant with Marlo, I went through a pint of strawberries a day. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the girl eats her strawberries first at mealtime? Like I said – it’s in the DNA.
So, not surprisingly, this is my favorite produce time of the year. Strawberries are cheap. They’re everywhere. They’re beautiful, big, juicy, sweet and flawless. I dig it.
Last weekend, the three of us drove down to the south end of Indy to visit Jeff’s grandmother who is homebound with a severely mangled ankle. On the way there, we made a highly anticipated stop at a strawberry farm, which shall remain nameless. I, very excitedly, picked up a 4 quart basket of strawberries and enthusiastically paid my $13 for them.
We got them home, and I immediately began sorting through them. I’m no dummy. I know that you can’t leave strawberries all piled up for long. You must get them comfortable with their own space and chuck any of the rotting ones so they don’t spoil the rest. I began doing this and about half way through realized that I was about 1 for 1 keepers to chuckers. Half of the strawberries were a rotten mushy mess. I understand that homegrown strawberries aren’t as picture perfect as the genetically modified store bought ones, but I know a rotting strawberry when I see it. It’s as if they were picked a little past their prime, after various bugs and animals had tested them and also decided they were past their prime. It was annoying and as much as I like the idea of supporting local farmers, I won’t be going back to that farm.
But I did manage to salvage a good 2 quarts of perfectly tiny sweet little strawberries – okay I’m exaggerating, they weren’t even that tasty. I mean they were tasty in a general strawberry sense but I expect homegrown strawberries to taste like candy. These just tasted like plain old strawberries. Anyway – 2 quarts. That’s a lot of strawberries for me and Marlo to eat in a few short days. So I thought I’d try and bake something.
I don’t do pie. Well, I’d probably make pie, but I won’t eat it. So I thought I’d make a quick bread. I found this recipe and was very happy with the results. It was moist, but not mushy and I really liked the little bit of cinnamon flavor. It made the strawberries taste even better. I definitely recommend trying this if you got to use up some strawberries, pronto.
Adapted from Joy of Baking
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
skant 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1/2 cup (55 grams) toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of an 8-cup loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inch). Set aside.
Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool completely before chopping coarsely. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and yogurt (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries and walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake about one hour (mine was done at 55 minutes), or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 1 loaf.