There are fewer pleasures in life more satisfying than picking your own fruits and vegetables and making incredible food with it. This amazing strawberry torte (cake) is simple to prepare and is the perfect summer treat. And there's a storied history behind the recipe too.
Community Supported Agriculture: A great way to support local farmers
But before I get into that, I would like to welcome you to my Community Supported Agriculture Series. I bought a summer farm share at Clark Farm in Carlisle, MA. This is very exciting. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is all about supporting local farms by buying a share of their harvest before the growing season and receiving farm fresh produce every week for a certain period of time.
Marian Burros' Plum Torte and That funny time before the internet existed
This torte recipe is an adaptation of the famous New York Times Plum Torte by Marian Burros. The recipe was printed every fall starting in the 1980s. Then surprisingly one year, the New York Times announced it may be the last year they printed it. They displayed the recipe with a dotted line around it encouraging people to cut out the recipe. It's hard to imagine the frenzy of a pre-internet recipe. The only opportunity to obtain a copy was to wait for the yearly printing.
Letters of disbelief poured in from torte fans begging the paper to continue printing the recipe. The angst became, it seems, more about losing the tradition of waiting for the recipe and preparing a fall treat. Saying good-bye to the summer and hello to the fall. The routine of it.
I'm not sure what year they stopped printing it, but there have been various updates over the years. At one point, it was emphasized how flexible the recipe is. Meaning, if it's not fall and there are no special Italian plums, use another fruit! Certainly, strawberries could work with this torte, I thought to myself. And they do work - beautifully!
For This Amazing Strawberry Torte I Picked My Own
When you have a CSA membership there is usually a Pick-Your-Own (PYO) component to it. You pick up your main share in the barn area where there are bins with garlic scapes, swiss chard, kale, zucchini, summer squash, a variety of amazing lettuce, spinach and more. On a chalk board there is a list of items that you can go out into the fields and pick yourself. The past two weeks we've been able to pick strawberries and it has been awesome!
I somehow had never picked strawberries before. Is that weird? I swear it was like a little miracle. They are low to the ground which I didn't know. You can see these little pops of color behind the greens. It feels like your playing hide-and-seek with the strawberries.
You bend down and push back branches and leaves, examining whether that one is ripe enough, knowing that other one is definitely ready and imagining what you will make with this sweet little treasure.
Maybe I would make strawberry muffins. No, a strawberry loaf. Wait, is that a thing? Strawberry shortcake? Too predictable. Hang on, there was that plum torte from last fall and I bet I could make it with strawberries! These are the things I was thinking as I picked my strawberries. Nothing existed in the world but them and me and the farm. I thought it would take forever to fill two pints, but I was finished relatively quickly. Then it was on to the sweet peas!
I hope you make this amazing strawberry torte - it's so easy and soooo yummy! I encourage you all to get to know your kitchen. Cook for yourselves and your loved ones. Share your meals with your loved ones. Tell your stories. Eat amazing food! And whenever possible, try to support local farmers.
Looking for More Sweet Treats? No Problem
- Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Really Great Rum Cake
- Fantastic Apple Pie w/Butter Crust
- Cheddar Stuffed French Toast w/Warm Peach Compote
- Easy Blueberry Ice Cream Topping
Amazing Strawberry Torte with Clark Farm Strawberries
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
An adaptation of the famous New York Times Plum Torte, this strawberry delight is the perfect summer treat.
- ¾ to 1 cup of sugar (your choice - I used ¾ cup)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick) (see notes)
- 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of whole strawberries (approx.)
- Extra granulated sugar to sprinkle on top (before baking)
- Powdered sugar, sifted (for topping once cooled down)
NOTE: IF YOU WANT A THICKER CAKE SIMPLY DOUBLE THE BATTER AND ADD A HANDFUL MORE STRAWBERRIES. I'VE DONE IT AND IT WORKS GREAT.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. I cut the butter into cubes first and used a hand mixer to blend. If you don’t have a hand mixer just use a spatula. Once the butter and sugar are blended, (should be smooth and a little fluffy) add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. Beat again until everything is well combined.
- Spoon the batter into an 8, 9 or 10 inch Springform pan. If you don’t have that, just use a pie plate. If using a Springform, I usually wrap the bottom in foil – just in case. It will feel like there isn’t enough batter – but there is. I filled a small plastic cup with warm water, dipped my spatula in the water and used that to spread the batter evenly in the bottom of the pan.
- Time to add the strawberries. I used organic strawberries from Clark Farm, but you can use store-bought as well. My strawberries were small-to-medium in size, but medium-to-large will work too. Remember, the original recipe calls for plum halves, so the batter can handle larger strawberries. I made a video that shows all the steps very well. Place the strawberries in a circle starting about one-inch from the edge of the pan. Then another circle inside that. Then 2-3 smaller strawberries in the center.
- Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar before baking – a heaping teaspoon should be good.
- Cook in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour (approximately). My oven runs hot and was ready in about 50 minutes. Knowing this, I set my timer for 45 minutes so I could do a toothpick test then. It needed about 5 more minutes.
- Let the torte cool down. Using a mesh strainer or flour sifter, sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the torte. You could put a dollop of whipped cream on the side too if you like.
- If using a hand blender, the butter and sugar mixture will bunch up inside the beaters. Be sure to scrape that out and blend back into mixture.
- Yes, the strawberries are supposed to sink into the cake.
- When I use a springform pan, I wrap in foil because most springforms are not completely air tight and I don’t want any leaks.
- DELICATE CAKE TIP: The original recipe doesn’t call for spraying the pan with cooking spray so I don't do that. It is a very delicate cake, so if you’re using the springform run a butter knife or mini spatula (I used a small metal one you can see in the pictures) around the edge of the cake to break any bond between the cake or the sugar and the side of the pan. When you are ready to release the springform pan with the latch --- do it carefully. When I first did it (slowly), I could see there was a section of cake still stuck a little to the side of the pan. I re-secured the pan latch and ran my mini-metal spatula around the edge one more time. Then I released the latch and it was fine. The cake was intact.
- About the unsalted butter. This is someone else's recipe so I gave you the exact ingredients from the their recipe. You can use salted butter if that's what you have on hand. I've found it doesn't really matter tastewise.
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