Strawberry right-side-up cake.

It’s strawberry season, folks, and around here we’re pretty much eating our weight in these glorious, scarlet beauties. So this recipe kicks off a series of strawberry-centric sides and desserts.

When Rob sampled a taste of this simple strawberry cake, he commented that it reminded him of pineapple upside-down cake. I understand the comparison, but honestly, the similarity doesn’t go much beyond the combination of fruit + cake. But I liked it enough to dub this recipe strawberry right-side-up cake. [Thanks for the inspiration, hon.]

This strawberry cake recipe isn’t too sweet, and it has the slightest hint of almond—a wonderful flavor accent to strawberry. If you don’t keep turbinado (or raw) sugar in your pantry of baking goods, I recommend you track some down, even if that means filching a couple of Sugar in the Raw packets from your favorite coffee shop. This coarse-grained, deep amber sugar lends a richly sweet flavor and a bit of crunch to the finished cake. It’s lovely as a simple dessert, and would be wonderful as a sort of coffee cake in the morning.

strawberry right-side-up cake

(adapted from MarthaStewart.com)

1 pint strawberries, washed, stemmed and halved
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 heaping Tbsp. turbinado (raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spritz a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In the bowl of a mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream butter until it's smooth; add sugar and cream until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, then add extracts and mix to incorporate. Add milk and mix to combine. (Note: When I added the milk, the mixture sort of curdled. It didn't appear to cause any problems; when I added the dry ingredients, the batter came together beautifully. I've read that using milk at room temperature will avoid the curdling.) In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add dry ingredients to mixer and blend well. Transfer batter to the prepared pie plate; top with halved strawberries (arrange them closely together). Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the strawberries.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then reduce oven temperature to 325 and continue baking for another 50 to 60 minutes, until the cake is deeply golden brown and the top is firm.