WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Can’t go wrong with strawberries and cream

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Today’s food column is brought to you by two of my favorite things: strawberries and pretty food magazines.

Last Friday, I spotted a publication from Taste of Home. “Sunday Brunch: Rise and Dine” caught my eye with the pretty cover photo of a ham and cheddar brunch ring. In recent months, I’ve enjoyed doing Sunday brunch with the family and thought I could get an idea or two. The $12.99 price tag seemed worth it to me, so I put it in my cart.

That night before bed, I flipped through the pages and started envisioning my table brimming with such things as vegetable pancakes, buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes, whole wheat pecan waffles and colorful brunch frittata.

I was still debating which recipe to try first when I landed on the last page of recipes and found all-American sheet cake. The doctored cake mix recipe is topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I knew immediately which recipe to try. I would make the cake and top it with local strawberries.

Before 8:30 Saturday morning, I had been to both the Wilson Farmers and Artisans Market at the Whirligig Park and Deans Farm, drooling over buckets of bright red strawberries. I spent several hours with my daughter at Deans Farm, where she was an art vendor at Spring Fling, and watched so many families go by with boxes full of strawberries they had picked. By the time I got home that afternoon, I couldn’t wait to dig into the bucket of strawberries I had bought. (Picking my own will have to wait until another day!)

I love strawberries in many forms, and already this year I have eaten local strawberries on granola and yogurt, in strawberry shortcake and in delicious refrigerator jam spread between hot, homemade biscuits.

On Sunday afternoon, I made the Taste of Home cake. The cake layer is very simple to make and is a variation on the cake mix box instructions, made with a cup of buttermilk in addition to oil and eggs.

Once the cake had cooled, I spread a layer of chopped, lightly sweetened strawberries on top. Then I made a bowl of whipped cream to put over the berries. The original recipe adds the cream first, then tops the cake with fresh fruit.

I couldn’t wait to try my finished cake. Strawberry desserts are one of my favorite treats, and this one didn’t disappoint.

For starters, the cake layer is light and delicious. Trust me; give it a try. The next time I want to make a cake, I will use this buttermilk-based recipe and top it with my favorite chocolate frosting.

The combination of the light cake layer, sweet berries and decadent cream is a winner. (If you don’t want to make fresh whipped cream, whipped topping would be a good substitute.)

When you get a chance, buy some local berries and make this cake. I think you will agree with me that it is delicious!

All-American Sheet Cake

I used fresh, local strawberries to top my cake.

1 package white cake mix (regular size)

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup canola oil

3 large eggs

2 to 3 cups sweetened whipped cream*

3 to 4 cups assorted fresh fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, buttermilk, oil and eggs; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour into a 13X9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread whipped cream over cake; top with fruit. Refrigerate. Yield: 15 servings.

Recipe from Taste of Home

* I made my whipped cream with 1 cup of whipping cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I needed a bit more whipped cream, so I made a second batch, and didn’t use all of it. Next time, I will make 1 1/2 recipes. You could also use a tub of whipped topping if you prefer. For the fruit, I used 1 quart of chopped strawberries with a little sugar sprinkled on top, maybe 2 teaspoons. Next time, I will do at least 1 to 2 more cups of berries. I also layered the chopped berries on top of the cake layer, then topped with whipped cream, instead of the other way around. Either way would be delicious!

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