With Rain Comes Haste

Hello readers!  Well, it is the last week of May and I am still alive, treading water in the month of May.  Almost over now.  We now have one kid off the calendar of crazy activities and can now focus on one kid with an endless amount of baseball games in my near future.  In some respects, the epic rain that we had last week slowed down the baseball with all the cancelled games and it could not have come at a better time when we were juggling tech rehearsals, dance recitals, mother in law visits, spring concerts, birthdays, etc.  Breathe, breathe….

This past winter I decided to rejoin a CSA.  I wanted to support local farms and I thought that if I was given produce I can base some recipes off them instead of trying to figure out how to incorporate veggies in our meals.  I went back to Brad’s Farm Market.  Not right around the corner, but not too far.  Yesterday was our first pick up and I went out in the rain to get my stash of produce.  Amongst the lettuce, asparagus, green onions and spinach were Brad’s strawberries.  I was wanting to to pick some extra but the rain and soggy fields nixed that plan.  As I was filling my bag, the employee there told me that the strawberries had to be eaten right away as all the rain would create moldy berries after a day.  With a quart of berries a dessert plan was in order.

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Strawberry shortcake is a favorite for all, and I go back and forth between the easiest biscuit recipe and pound cake.  With my oven still broken as of yesterday, (edit: it’s fixed now, $436 later) I decided to cheat and use a store bought pound cake from Wegmans.  It’s a good pound cake and all, but it doesn’t hold a torch to my gal Ina’s pound cake which is my go to.  I love the orange pound cake and when I use it for berry shortcakes, the orange flavor and berries are amazing together.  Plus, the recipe makes 2 cakes, so you can stick one in the freezer for another strawberry shortcake hankering.

Assembling strawberry shortcake is not rocket science.  The sum of the parts really does make the whole here.  The cake or biscuit base, perfectly ripe strawberries and freshly whipped cream.  Do not use that crap in the can that my husband cannot eat his nightly ice cream without.

Prep your berries at least an hour before using.  I used my strawberry huller so there was not any waste.  Hull them, slice them and put them in a bowl.  I sprinkle a tablespoon of  sugar over them and give them a gentle toss to get the juices flowing.

A few minutes before assembling, pour a cup of cold heavy cream in a cold bowl and start whipping away.  I add a tablespoon or 2 of sugar to lightly sweeten it.  You want soft billowy peaks, too much whipping and you got butter.

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A slice of pound cake, a couple of big spoonfuls of strawberries and a mound of whipped cream.  Delish!

Orange Pound Cake (Ina Garten, 2002)

Ingredients

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated orange zest (6 oranges)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To glaze one loaf (optional):
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the orange zest.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cakes bake, cook the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with the remaining 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans and place them on a baking rack set over a tray. Spoon the orange syrup over the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely.

To glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Add a few more drops of juice, if necessary, to make it pour easily. Pour over the top of one cake and allow the glaze to dry. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.