Strawberries are a summer fruit, synonymous with Christmas and hot weather and pavlova. So why markets are blanketed in plump red berries now at the tail end of winter/beginning of spring, I'm not sure. I should probably be worried but instead I snapped up a punnet for a pocketful of loose change and made cake. Naturally.
Until recently, I was quite sniffy about strawberries, seeing them as somehow inferior to their more rarified relatives like raspberries, blackberries, mulberries... I liked them fine but found their taste by comparison a little... well, bland. But then I learned something that changed my bad attitude about strawberries forever. It's likely you already know this but I'll share it with you anyway. Are you ready? Here it is. Don't eat them cold. That's it. Out of the fridge, at room temperature, their flavour is fully experienced and it's every bit as distinctive and delicious as those other berries that cost twice or three times the price. But don't eat too many or you won't have enough for this cake.
Rich and buttery, with a ribbon of red running through it and a crunchy, crumbly topping, this is the best kind of morning coffee cake or afternoon tea cake. You could make it with any kind of berry probably but there's something particularly sweet about strawberries, whatever the weather, whatever the season.
Strawberry sour cream streusel cake
Recipe by Nigella Lawson, from the September 2006 issue of Delicious
This is very good just as it is, but if you wanted to gussy it up just a bit, you could serve it with some pouring cream on the side.
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
320g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
240g chilled butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 cup (240g) sour cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons Demerara (or raw) sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
For purée, make a paste of cornflour and vanilla and add to food processor with berries and jam. Blend til smooth. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 170 deg C. Grease and flour a 23cm springform tin.
Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and bicarb soda in a large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Remove 1/2 cup and set aside, then add sour cream, egg and vanilla to main bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Using a little over half the cake batter, drop dollops of batter into pan. Pat batter across bottom of pan and about 2.5cm up sides - mixture will be very sticky and somewhat uneven. Add purée, making an even layer across bottom of pan and leaving a rim of dough above it. Cover with remaining cake mix (I find it easiest to flatten pieces of batter in between my fingers and then patchwork them across the top).
Use a fork to combine reserved flour and butter mix with Demerara sugar. Sprinkle evenly over cake, then bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool in pan, then serve.