The strawberries are here!

I wanted to bake a cake for our potluck lunch, but couldn’t decide on the flavour. Then last week, on the way back from Hoan Kiem lake, I saw carts full of fresh strawberries along the road, and I had my answer.

On Saturday, I wheeled out my ‘basket bike’ and cycled off to buy those luscious-looking strawberries. Took the opportunity to haggle prices in Vietnamese, trying out my newly learnt numbers (mot tram, etc), much to the amusement of the sellers. Naturally, a number of them gathered round to ‘help’ pick the nicest (?) of the lot, and we all had a few pleasant moments in the bargain. It was quite a sunny day, and the strawberries had a great ride back the long way around Westlake, ripening in the heat.

I’d looked up a number of strawberry cake recipes on the net, got discouraged by all those cake-mix ones, and went back to an old tried ‘n tested one, which is actually a cocoa-apple cake. Substituted the apples with strawberries, deleted the cocoa powder, cardamom and allspice, and added lemon zest. This is a very moist cake, so parchment paper is a must! There was so much batter that I could make one 8-inch cake and more than a dozen cupcakes. Didn’t have cupcake liners, so that was a bit of a disaster, but the cake came out fine.

I wanted to decorate it too, and settled on my favorite cream cheese frosting (225 gm cream cheese, half cup butter, 4 cups icing sugar sifted, forgot vanilla essence, – didn’t matter). Had cooled the cake in the freezer, so the surface was great for frosting, and for the first time ever, it looked smooth, almost professional. Topped it with fresh strawberry halves. I also had a bit of leftover chocolate frosting that I was keen on using on this one, to complement the strawberries, so popped it all in a piping bag, and wriggled it all over the cake. Could have been really great, but I messed it up in the center by squirting a bit too much. And the strawberries were just a little too juicy!

Whatever the looks, I think it tasted good, coz there’s only one piece left for Souvik, and I SHALL STAY AWAY FROM IT.

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