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Fresh or frozen, strawberries shine in an easy cake

Recipe:  Serve this creation with a spoon

Serve this easy cake with a scoop of ice cream.

Serve this easy cake with a scoop of ice cream.

Kathy Morrison

OK, confession time: I always buy too much of whatever spring or summer fruit is in season. Strawberries, blueberries, apricots, cherries, peaches! But I justify it by thinking "I'll freeze the rest and have fruit for baking in winter."

Then, while we enjoy the fresh fruit in season, the excess fruit get buried in the back of the freezer in a 2-cup or 4-cup container. Until the next year, when the fruit's season starts again, and I realize I never used the frozen stuff.

Hence the strawberries I pulled out of the icy depths this weekend. Just in time for California strawberries to start showing up at area farmers markets. Sigh.

But I found an easy and yummy recipe that I think actually works better with frozen fruit. Strawberry spoon bread is from the New York Times Cooking site, but commenters there note that the style of cake goes way back, and is sometimes called "Lazy woman's cobbler." OK, I accept that, if lazy equates to "get in and out of the kitchen quickly."

The ingredients are all pantry items, and there are no eggs. (The recipe easily could be converted to  vegan with vegan butter and oat or almond milk.)

Another commenter confessed to messing up the baking time and temperature, but said the mistake led to an even better version of the cake. I followed the idea and agree!

Any juicy type of fruit will work here, including packaged frozen fruit that often is used in smoothies. In my freezer I'm eyeing a bag of frozen apricots next.

Strawberries in measuring cup
The berries macerate in brown sugar and just a
bit of lemon juice.

Strawberry spoon cake

Serves 4


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups hulled strawberries, fresh or frozen (defrost ahead of time)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2/3 cup brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 cup unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place the butter in an 8-inch baking dish (round seems to work better) and put the pan in the warming oven so the butter will melt.

In a medium bowl, mash the strawberries (with any liquid from defrosting them, if they've been frozen). Add the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Set aside to macerate while you make the cake batter.

Remove the baking pan from the oven. Swirl the melted butter around in the pan to cover the sides, then pour the butter into a medium bowl. Don't scrape down the pan -- the remaining butter will act as the grease for the cake.

Finished cake in dish
The strawberries form a jammy top to the cake when baked.

Stir the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and the milk into the butter until well-combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring until just smooth.

Scrape the batter into the baking pan and spread it evenly. It will be thick. Carefully spoon the macerated berries and all the liquid over the top of the batter.

Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees, then turn up the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes. The fruit will be quite jammy, and a toothpick inserted in the cake center should come out clean.

Cool for about 5 minutes before serving. This is excellent warm or at room temperature. Spoon into bowls and serve with ice cream or whipped cream or even Greek yogurt.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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