Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the Tennessee farmers who grow strawberries for all of us non-farmers to enjoy every May. Year by year they are out in their fields early on chilly mornings checking on their fields while we are snug in our beds. They watch the weather reports, day in-day out, trying to judge how each years crop will turn out. Too much rain….not enough. Too many cloudy days or relentless heat.
This year’s Tennessee strawberry crop has been so sweet. It is a short season so do not delay. Boxes full of tender, ruby-red berries lined up at Farmer’s Market stands just for making recipes such as this, “Sugared (Tennessee) Strawberry Sponge Cake Stacks”.
I made wee sponge cakes in a muffin tin with just a few ingredients. These cakes are light and airy with just a hint of sweetness. I want to taste the berries first, then the berry juice soaked cake with a quick dusting of powdered sugar.
Warm sponge cakes……I sprayed the muffin tin with coconut spray which added a very nice hint of coconut to the cakes……
….berries rinsed, patted dry, cut in half and tossed with raw sugar.
It would not be May without sugared strawberries and little cakes!
The berries from Delvin Farms. The wee sponge cakes are based on a recipe by James Tanner from his amazing wonderful and simple cookbook “Take 5 Ingredients”.
Sugared Strawberry Sponge Cake Stacks
- coconut oil spray (I just discovered this and adore the hint of coconut it imbues)
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you cannot find then pulse regular sugar in processor until fine)
- 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour sifted with 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 pints of fresh (local) seasonal Strawberries, rinsed & patted dry, tops cut off and halved
- 1/3 cups raw sugar
- powdered sugar for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 6 cup muffin tin with coconut spray. Set aside.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until pale & frothy.
- In another bowl whisk, or use a hand mixer, the egg whites until stiff. Whisk the egg whites into the egg yolks.
- Fold the flour-salt mixture in small batches until all the flour is blended in.
- Divide batter between greased muffin tin cups. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and set in the middle. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove sponge cakes from tin and continue to cool on rack while preparing berries.
- In a glass mixing bowl toss together the strawberries & raw sugar. Mash a few of the berries with the back of a fork to release juices. Toss again and leave to sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
- To serve use a serrated knife to gently cut each wee sponge cake into 3 slices. Layer cake and berries on a serving plate. Allow about 5 minutes before serving to let cake layers soak up berry juice. Dust cake with powdered sugar and serve.
This is a simple dessert that is not overly sweet. Easy to make. Can be prepped ahead of time and can be made using any seasonal berries, peaches or plums.
This week they arrived, plump, sweet and plentiful. Those small, round baby berries. Tennessee Strawberries. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I made this tart with the first ones I purchased after eating half the carton one-by-one.
I have never been a big fan of cooked strawberries as in strawberry pie or strawberry cobblers. Something about the berries becoming “mushy” during the cooking process just doesn’t appeal to my palate. This tart is different. The berries stay firm and keep their color, they do not get mushy nor discolored. It has a wonderful crispy crust that doesn’t get soggy on the bottom. With only a few ingredients it is quick and easy, beautifully rustic and will just make you, or your mother, very happy bite-by-bite.
This is what a really fresh, ripe, just picked locally grown Tennessee Strawberry looks like up close. Not perfect, not dark red and very red inside as well as outside. They are fragrant. Here are some places you can go and pick your own berries in Middle Tennessee if you like. I am pretty happy to let others do the picking for me. These berries came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.
Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.
Four ingredients is all that is needed for this crust. If you are in a big hurry you can, of course, use a refrigerator roll-out dough. In a food processor my crust takes about 5 minutes to make. Give it a try.
Warm from the oven…..
….come on…get a bit closer…let’s have a bite. Share some with your Mom, or someone else’s Mom. Make this while the local strawberries are available…it is a fleeting season.
Tennessee Strawberry Tart
- 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp + 1/4 cup raw sugar divided
- 4 Tbsp ice water
- 2 cups rinsed, hulled & halved small strawberries
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 egg beaten
- Sanding sugar for garnish
- For this easy crust just put butter, flour-salt mixture & 1 Tbsp of the raw sugar in a food processor and pulse just until mixture is blended. Drizzle in ice water while pulsing mixture until a dough ball forms. Remove dough from processor, form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
- Place halved berries and sliced almonds in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch & remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar over & gently toss to coat berries. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
- Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
- Pile strawberry filling in the middle of the dough circle and gently fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Brush dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with sanding sugar.
- Bake tart for about 40 -50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly. Remove from oven & cool tart on pan set on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This tart was very good for a few days and the bottom crust never got soggy!
(Recipe is based on one that I did for an editorial client earlier this Spring for a photo shoot. I, of course, made a number of changes to make it more user-friendly.)