Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

A Tasty Experiment of Strawberry Proportions

I don’t usually post recipes, here, but today I’m making an exception. Strawberries have started to appear in stores and, while it’s still early in the season, the temptation is there to make something of them. This recipe would be a nice in-between step between now and when spring and summer shortcakes come around.


Hidden Strawberry Cake
Hidden Strawberry Cake

Company was coming for dinner and we’d picked up some early-season (but so fresh you could smell their sweetness as you walked past the flats) strawberries with a vague plan that they would comprise dessert.

But a vague plan only gets you to a few hours before dinner. What to do with them?

Sure, there’s the usual pie, shortcake or cobbler but I wanted something more cake-like.

For Christmas Eve I’d made the Caramel Apple Cake from a Food Network Magazine, which was similar in concept to a pineapple upside-down cake and we really enjoyed the combo of dense cake and moist fruit. To make a strawberry-friendly version, I headed to Joy of Cooking for a basic Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe (skipping the streusel) and added in a layer of strawberries between each half of the dough.

The addition of the strawberries and the change in baking pan from the original recipe meant it took twice as long for the cake to bake. And I worried that skipping the streusel topping would result in a blah cake.

Thankfully, our guest proclaimed it a very successful experiment.


Hidden Strawberry Cake

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, beaten

Strawberry Filling
1 pint fresh strawberries
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

Strawberry Topping
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare an 8-inch square pan.

In a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.

Meanwhile, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl and stir until combined.

In a small bowl combine the Greek-style yogurt and vanilla.

Scrape down the mixing bowl and then, on low, add the dry and wet ingredients in batches to the creamed butter and sugar: 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet, 1/3 dry, last of the wet, last of the dry. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the beaten eggs.

Stem, hull and slice 1 pint of the strawberries for the filling.

Spread half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Scatter the sliced strawberries in an even layer over the batter, sprinkling with cinnamon and brown sugar. Carefully spread the remaining batter over the top of the strawberry layer.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, take the remaining pint of strawberries and stem, hull and slice them. Place them in a bowl with the demerara sugar (or other raw sugar), cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until you’re ready to serve the cake.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then unmold to a serving plate to cool completely.

When ready to serve, top each slice with some of the sugared strawberries.


The strawberry layer does sink a bit, instead of staying firmly in the center but the flavor is just fine regardless of the shift. The hint of cinnamon is just enough to spice the whole cake and the extra strawberries on top (along with the juices the sugar helps draw out) add a touch of moisture to the top of the cake. If anything, a little freshly whipped cream might also be added, but it’s certainly not necessary to enjoy the cake as-is.

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker

    1. Oooh, good question!

      It’s personal preference, really, and I had some on hand so decided to go with it instead of the usual white, granulated kind.

      That said, I do like the raw sugars because I find they have a smoother flavor and larger granules (which affects flavor similar to Kosher salt versus Iodized table salt). It’s also nice to see what the color difference can do to a recipe–not too much in this case but make a sugar syrup with raw sugar instead of white and the resulting syrup can range from light tan to mahogany. After all, we eat with our eyes, too 🙂

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