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This strawberry-lemon combo will brighten your day

Sunny strawberry bread marries berries and lemon. Tossing the berries in flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Sunny strawberry bread makes most of small berries

Spring flavors that work well together.
This delightful tea bread combines two favorite flavors of spring: Strawberries and lemon. It also makes good use of small berries.

Small berries is what I have right now. My strawberries have had a bountiful May, producing pint after pint of flavorful berries. And they just keep going.

I grow Seascape, a disease-resistant ever-bearing variety that's bright red all the way through. It can take the heat and produces berries from April through November. Besides all those pluses, the flavor is intense and very berry.

The first round of fruit is always the largest and prettiest; those berries go into shortcake or on top of tarts. In late May, the plants are pumping out little jewels -- thimble-sized berries that are just the right size to bake into bread or other treats.

This recipe is an adaptation of Nicole Routhier's strawberry-lemon bread in her excellent "Fruit Cookbook" (Workman Publishing, 1996).

Tossing the strawberries with a little flour before baking keeps the fruit suspended in the batter instead of sinking to the bottom of the loaf.

Yes, it's a lot of butter, but the result is light and moist.

Still a few large Seascape berries, but mostly small ones now.
Sunny strawberry bread
Makes one large loaf


2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved or quartered
2 cups flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For glaze:
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 8-1/2- by 4-1/2- by 2-1/2-inch loaf pan (or similar size); grease pan and line with parchment paper.

Prepare strawberries. Toss berries with 1/4 cup flour.

In a large bowl, sift together remaining 1-3/4 cups flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, combine beaten eggs and sugar. Stir in melted butter. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract. Fold in flour-covered strawberries.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add strawberry mixture and stir just until bended. It will be a thick and heavy batter.

Sunny strawberry bread is great for brunch, a snack or dessert.
Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a long skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice and sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring often. Let boil 1 minute, then remove from stove.

Let bread cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan. Slowly pour glaze over loaf, using a pastry brush or spoon to make sure the top is evenly covered.

Let bread cool at least 1 hour before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Day-old strawberry bread makes good toast.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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