An abundance of strawberries and a pretty picture were all it took to convince me I should make the Strawberry Summer Cake from Smitten Kitchen. We had strawberries from the store and strawberries from the garden. I hulled them and sliced them. I whisked dry ingredients and creamed butter and sugar.
I poured doubled batter into two pans and topped them with strawberries in mosaic. Erin sat on the counter top beside me while I worked, and when I had sufficiently covered the surface of the cakes, her sweet fingers were free to select from the remaining berries in the bowl. She made quite a show of it. She has the stained shirt to prove it.
Two cakes came out of the oven. We sent one home with a friend who had come over to play for the afternoon. The other cake was ours. It smelled like strawberry jam. The surface of slightly sunken berries, and the sugar topping originally scattered now a crisp layer of only wonderful.
After dinner, Erin carried little white plates of cake to Lanie and Shane. And this is how it looked, in words:
Shane ate his slices efficiently and quietly, making the most and best use of his time. He ate three slices (two at the table and one in secret as he loaded up the dishwasher).
Lanie praised and gushed over every bite. She wanted another piece. And one for breakfast the next day. It was THE BEST CAKE EVER. She had one and a half slices.
At each forkful, I appreciated the delicate crisp of sugar breaking at the surface under gentle pressure, the juxtaposition of berries in the wedge, their tenderness and yield from the lower temperature baking over an hour, the golden crust. I ate my slice (and later, Erin's).
Erin eagerly went to work. After a bite she said, "This isn't very good." She pulled berry from batter and determined, "This is the worst cake I've ever had. Mommy, don't make this anymore."
Be warned: make at your own risk.
(I think it's completely worth it. And I will be baking two more cakes in the morning to gift to others.)