Thursday, April 8th, 2010
I think that if, by some cruel trick, I had to discard my growing cookbook collection and keep just one, it would be this one. Without much of a contest. America’s Test Kitchen knows their stuff and never ceases to provide inspiration.
Their recipes also provide great hacking potential. Now I know, that sort of defeats their entire purpose – they like to work the kinks out of a recipe so that you can prepare it exactly as written, with great results. That’s all well and good, but sometimes I get bored.
These tiny, flavor-filled strawberry cakes were born of an entirely different recipe, for a moist, coffee cake-like thing filled with blueberries, that I’ve made a zillion times. It’s always delicious, but guess what? It’s not blueberry season.
And better still is the fact that while flipping through this sainted book, I discovered the key to overcoming my bundt pan fear (and sometimes failure). Those smarties in the test kitchen had me all figured out.
And thus, the perfect opportunity to use the cutest pan ever emerged right in front of me. And they came out perfectly, moist little strawberry bombs. Yum! I’d highly recommend making some for your office, in-laws, or maybe just for breakfast. They’re that good.
Tiny Strawberry Cakes
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
So here’s the trick: stir together 1 tablespoon each of melted butter and flour, and use a pastry brush to plaster it all over the nooks and crannies of your bundt pan (as shown above). Works like a charm. If you don’t have a super-cute pan like this, you could definitely use a muffin tin or (as the original calls for) eight 6-ounce ramekins. I had enough batter for 12 of these tiny little guys plus two ramekins (which went in the freezer for later).
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup half and half (I used fat-free)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup strawberry preserves
zest of one lime
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a decorative or regular muffin tin, or eight 6-ounce ramekins. If using ramekins, place on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Process the sugar, walnuts, butter, and salt together in a food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 seconds. With the processor running, add the half and half, eggs, and vanilla through the feed tube and process until smooth, about 5 seconds. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until just incorporated, about 5 pulses.
Transfer the batter to a large bowl and gently fold in strawberries, preserves, and lime zest. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan or ramekins.
Bake until golden and beginning to pull away from the pan, about 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool on a wire rack ten minutes before serving.
To make ahead (or reserve some for later baking), wrap ramekins tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the cakes sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Unwrap the ramekins, place on a baking sheet, and bake as directed, increasing the baking time by 5 minutes if necessary.
High-Altitude Notes: Decrease baking powder slightly and bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes.