Hand pies, strawberry sheet cake, and the dreamiest pavlova for June.
Three weeks ago, my kids and I had covid, and now one is home sick again—but smack in the middle, we had one healthy, jam-packed Memorial day weekend where we ate all the things—especially, all things strawberry.
June marks the start of strawberry season, at least where we live (Upstate New York), where berries take their sweet time appearing in the market. It’s also birthday month for my husband and I (yes, two Gemini in one house—it gets real fun).
Right about now, strawberry prices drop significantly (hallelujah!) just as flavor peaks, so get them while the getting is good. You don’t need much to dress up a ripe, in-season strawberry. Maybe a little whipped cream. I’ve served big bowls of berries and cream the last three times we had guests. Simple is good. Simple is wildly underrated (pro tip: serve them with an iced bowl of fresh mint and let your guests dip the leaves in the cream as they eat—delicious!!).
In the savory world, strawberries are the clench-pin of this dreamy salad, which I’ve poised as a winter salad (bitter greens, persimmon) but you can make it now, with peaches and strawberries. They’re also the unsung hero of a punchy salad I often serve for summer brunching—with radishes, fennel, and cucumber—dressed up with dill, basil, chive, lemon and honey, And don’t forget about this easy kale and strawberry salad—which I wrote about earlier this spring.
Still, a cake will always get me on birthday month.
My mom made a spongy strawberry shortcakes on repeat every June, on breezy summer nights in the yard, or anytime company came. So when I saw Jessie Sheenan’s Strawberry Sheet Cake in her new book, Snackable Bakes, an all-in-one spongy shortcake deal, I was sold. It’s perfect for weekend parties and picnics and summer birthday season, if you have any Geminis in your house, too.
I’m also mildly obsessed with Nicole Taylor’s Strawberry Hand Pies from her new book, Watermelon & Red Birds —which celebrates Juneteenth. You can get the recipe on BA here, and order Nicole’s inspiring book, here.
If you want strawberries in all their luscious, visual glory—there’s my Strawberry Stracciatella Pavlova (above) which is one of my all time favorite creations, and what I’d ask someone to make for me for my birthday next week if they asked.
For now, my son, who is home on a nebulizer every few hours (and milking this full-time nurse for all she’s got)—is asking for strawberry popsicles. These look good and easy, and I can vouch for these tangy Strawberry Buttermilk Pops, developed during my time as Food Director at Real Simple—which we’ll be making later today.
I’d like to think I’ve left you June weekend ready—with strawberry options galore, in case you go picking. Find the recipe for Jessie’s cake, a links list to six more seasonal bests (including a no-churn strawberry, rhubarb ice cream), plus my go-to poached strawberry pancake + porridge topper how-to, below.
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STRAWBERRY SHEET CAKE
Reprinted with permission from Snackable Bakes by Jessie Sheenan
COOKING SPRAY OR SOFTENED UNSALTED BUTTER FOR PAN
1 1/4 CUPS (296 ML) VEGETABLE OIL
2 1/4 CUPS (450 G) GRANULATED SUGAR
4 TEASPOONS VANILLA EXTRACT
3 LARGE EGGS
1⅓ CUPS (315 ML) WHOLE MILK
1 TABLESPOON BAKING POWDER
1 1/4 TEASPOONS KOSHER SALT
3 CUPS (390 G) ALL- PURPOSE FLOUR
1 POUND (454 G) WHOLE STRAWBERRIES, FRESH OR FROZEN, HULLED AND ROUGHLY CHOPPED
TURBINADO SUGAR FOR SPRINKLING
SO, YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT, BUT THE SUMMER OF 2019 WAS THE SUMMER OF STRAWBERRY SHEET CAKES. BOTH BON APPÉTIT AND DEB PERELMAN (AKA SMITTEN KITCHEN) SHARED RECIPES FOR THEM; AND I, TOO, HAD THE BERRY SHEET CAKE BUG THAT SUMMER, BUT DEVELOPED A RASPBERRY ONE, INSTEAD. BUT NOW THAT A LITTLE TIME HAS PASSED, I, TOO, AM JUMPING ON THE STRAWBERRY BANDWAGON, BECAUSE EVEN JUST SAYING “STRAWBERRY SHEET CAKE” GIVES ME ALL THE HAPPY, SUMMERY FEELS. CAN’T EXACTLY EXPLAIN WHY, BUT IT’S TRUE. THIS CAKE IS EASY. THIS CAKE IS— WELL— MARVELOUS. AND THIS CAKE NEEDS BAKING ASAP.
1. HEAT THE OVEN TO 350 ° F. GREASE A 9- BY- 13- INCH PAN WITH COOKING SPRAY OR SOFTENED BUTTER. LINE WITH A LONG PIECE OF PARCHMENT PAPER THAT EXTENDS UP AND OVER THE TWO LONG SIDES OF THE PAN.
2. WHISK TOGETHER THE OIL, GRANULATED SUGAR, AND VANILLA IN A LARGE BOWL FOR 30 SECONDS. WHISK IN THE EGGS, ONE AT A TIME, AND THEN THE MILK. SPRINKLE THE BAKING POWDER AND SALT INTO THE BOWL, ONE AT A TIME, VIGOROUSLY WHISKING AFTER EACH. GENTLY FOLD IN THE FLOUR WITH A FLEXIBLE SPATULA JUST UNTIL THE LAST STREAK DISAPPEARS. THE BATTER WILL BE LUMPY.
3. SCRAPE THE BATTER INTO THE PREPARED PAN AND EVENLY SCATTER THE STRAWBERRIES ON TOP.
4. GENEROUSLY SPRINKLE THE CAKE WITH THE TURBINADO SUGAR AND BAKE FOR 55 TO 60 MINUTES, ROTATING THE CAKE AT THE HALFWAY POINT. THE CAKE IS DONE WHEN A WOODEN SKEWER INSERTED INTO THE CENTER COMES OUT WITH A MOIST CRUMB OR TWO.
5. REMOVE FROM THE OVEN AND LET COOL TO ROOM TEMPERATURE. SERVE SLICES DIRECTLY FROM THE PAN; OR LIFT THE CAKE FROM THE PAN WITH THE PARCHMENT OVERHANG, RUNNING A BUTTER KNIFE AROUND THE EDGES IF IT RESISTS. KEEP THE CAKE, WRAPPED, ON THE COUNTER FOR UP TO 3 DAYS.
ONE 9- BY- 13- INCH RECTANGULAR CAKE
ACTIVE TIME: 10 MINUTES
BAKE TIME: 55 TO 60 MINUTES
SIX MORE STRAWBERRY THINGS TO MAKE RIGHT NOW:
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