A cake that is a beauty or a beauty of a cake? Simplicity can have its charms too.
When you have yourself a bowl of beautiful, fragrant strawberries, what do you do? I mainly eat them raw, or add them to yogurt, or make milkshakes, or eat them with milk and cereals. They sometimes end up on a fruit salad, dipped in melted chocolate, drowned in sparkling wines. But then there comes a moment when they need to go in a cake, you know? Because, well, there's always cake in this house - I may not partake of it, husband always does! - even if we try to bake cakes that aren't too sweet, as the kid doesn't like it overly sweet and Hugo needs to go easy on the sugar.
Last year I baked a version of this cake, which is much more a bread than a cake, as it is really not very sweet, but tends to be rather dense and very, very fragrant. I tweaked the recipe a little, as I usually do, adding certain stuff, taking away others, just to make it more to my taste, or even in an attempt to innovate. Sometimes it all goes horribly wrong, as I believe we all know - who hasn't yet had a major kitchen fail while trying to change an old tested and proved recipe in the hopes of innovating and being creative? - but most times it's a winner, right?
This is the kind of cake that will leave your house scented for hours after it's baked. You know when you're checking a cake in the oven to see if it's done and the aroma that comes off when you open that oven door seems to invade the whole kitchen and hang around for a few minutes even after you've shut that door again? Well, with this cake the aroma will fill the whole house, and it will last. I think it's the combination of coconut and strawberries, when they cook together they fill the house with a sweet scent that will leave you salivating and dying to get your teeth sunk into this.
I think it's also a very beautyful cake, visually. The golden hue of the oven lends itself to the deep dark pink of the strawberries, making it look quite appetizing. It's not a dainty, delicate cake. I'm not very good at baking those works of art I see around - and boy, do I love gazing at those cakes! - cakes that are as tall as a small child, with layer over layer of beautifully fresh fruit and ganaches and creams and custards and flowers and twigs and glazes and sugar coatings and edible blossoms and sprinkles of sparkle and... those cakes are stunning, and I can spend long minuted looking at them, trying to decipher each and every layer, drinking i the colours and the textures and wondering how can anyone make something that beautiful, and praising those bakers.
I dream of one day trying one of those cakes, or maybe even bake one myself, but I know I would be so sorry to cut into it and ruining all that beauty. So I bake simple cakes because in the kitchen I am more of a rustic at heart and simple is what I do best when it comes to baking - that, and because I am just not talented enough for those wonders - because I want to cut in straight away, instead of just sitting there gazing into a cake as if I'm gazing into the eyes of my first love. And I know my boy will be nagging me to cut him a slice, like, five minutes after the cake is out of the oven and he'll be under my feet "Mom, can I have some cake, mom, please?" and I will want to give him cake as soon as I can - if only to have him get out from under my feet as I have fallen on my bum way too many times, trying to avoid tripping on him!! But this cake was so beautiful I took me sometime to photograph it from each and every angle, gazing lovingly into it, sad to have it fall apart after that first slice was cut - because it's one of those cakes that really does crumble! Fortunately the kid was at a birthday party, and not asking me for cake, instead he was asking another mom for it!
So here's the recipe for this bad boy:
- 2 eggs
- 300 ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 375 gr flour
- 200 gr sugar
- 150 gr shredded coconut
- 75 gr butter
- circa 10 medium sized strawberries