October 18, 2009

To crave and to have...cake.

"To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing--the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries."
--Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life..." writes one reviewer on the back cover. Housekeeping is not one of my favorite novels, but it contains passages of such thoughtfulness and breathtaking imagery that I found myself folding pages so that someday I could read them again. I suspect these passages are the author's most valued reflections that she stowed away over the course of many years, until she was ready to reveal them to the world in a spectacular literary debut: her first novel. I'm sure she treasures this novel like her first child, and justifiably so.

I love this passage. Of course, many of my blog posts tend to gravitate toward the thought of cake, and this one is no different. So longing may "bring us wild strawberries," but in my case one autumn night, it brought strawberry coffee cake. When I came across the recipe for it, I thought I had never longed for something more in my life. So I baked it. You can, too.


Strawberry Coffee Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker (great blog)
For the strawberry glaze
1.5-2 cups frozen strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp water
1 tbsp corn starch
For the cake
1 stick butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
For the streusel topping
3 tbsp cold butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 tbsp sugar

For strawberry filling:
Plop the strawberries in a saucepan until they start to defrost and break down. Add the sugar, water and cornstarch and cook over low heat until it looks like pie filling. Set aside to cool.

Grease and flour a 10x10 in. baking pan (I think you can also use 9x13). Set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one by one. Add vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed butter in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Combine until uniform.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter in the pan. Pour cooled strawberry mixture over the batter. Pour the remaining third of the batter over the strawberries.

Now make the streusel topping by rubbing ingredients with your fingertips until it forms a rough crumble. Some crumbs will be small, others bigger. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake 50-60 minutes. The smell will be buttery and heavenly, trust me. You'll know it's done when a knife comes out clean.

2 comments:

Kat Han said...

ooooh i crave strawberry coffee cake. does this mean it will come to me soon? ;)

Velva said...

The strawberry cake looks divine. The poetry that led to the craving for this delightful cake was very nice too.