Take advantage of heavenly local strawberries
William Butler, a 17th century English writer, said: “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”
No need to ask what berry he was referring to. Bright red and fragrant, the strawberry is truly the queen of berries.
Right now it is strawberry season in York County, and many places offer a pick-your-own option. The savings are considerable compared with pre-picked berries. More importantly, you can choose the juiciest and ripest berries. Strawberries are available in all four corners of York County, but if you want to make it a relaxed, family affair, try Barefoot Farm on Bluebird Lane in Dover. In addition to 5 acres of strawberries, they offer an ice cream and sandwich shop with plenty of outdoor seating and play areas for children.
After you have eaten your fill of ripe berries in the field (yes, tasting is allowed), it is time to turn your creative energies to dessert. Strawberries and cream is a combination that can’t be beat — unless, of course you whip the cream and add a cake. But preparing strawberry shortcake for a number of people can sometimes become tedious.
The strawberry cake roll combines all the elements of strawberry shortcake in a more efficient manner. Make it once, then slice when needed. With a light, airy sponge cake base, it is a convenient, make-ahead dessert that is perfect to serve at summer get-togethers.
Strawberry Cake Roll
Note: You’ll need a 15-inch-by-10-inch jellyroll pan for the cake.
- Vegetable shortening for greasing the pan
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 11/2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup sifted flour
- 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 12 ounces fresh strawberries
- 1½ cups whipping cream
Lightly grease the jellyroll pan (this prevents the paper from slipping), and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the eggs, sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, salt and honey until soft peaks form. This will take about 8 minutes. With the mixer at the lowest speed, add the flour little by little until combined. Using a spatula, spread the batter onto the chilled baking pan. Cook for 8 -10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, but not longer, as you want the cake to still be warm.
Place a clean dish towel on a large cutting board and lightly dust all over with powdered sugar. Place the sponge cake on top of the towel, parchment side up; peel off and discard the parchment. Dust the cake lightly with more powdered sugar. Starting at one of the shorter sides, loosely roll up the sponge cake inside the towel. Place on a rack to cool.
Slice the strawberries in thin pieces and set aside. Beat the whipping cream, remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Unwrap the cake and spread a layer of cream, leaving a 2-inch space at the edge away from you. Layer the sliced strawberries on top, then cover with another layer of whipped cream. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll up the cake.
Chill for two hours. When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at email@example.com.