My friends are jerks. Don’t get me wrong; I love them, but they relish the opportunity to be jerks. You may be saying to yourself, “based on the tenor of much of this blog, I’m not exactly surprised that your jerk quotient is significant,” and perhaps you’d be onto something.
Case in point: an invite for a birthday party was recently posted to Facebook. Approximately 50 people were invited. Half promptly RSVP’d. The other half, to which I belonged, languished in their typical noncommittal way. Despite the presence of 24 other people who ignored their obligation to honor the social contract and simply give their fellow human beings a yes, no, or maybe, my friends seized the chance to call me out publicly over the internet for failing to respond, and probably made fun of my beard or something while they were at it.
In spite of the RSVP debacle, I did decide to attend. And although I may flout the rules of event confirmation, I am no caveman. I pay grave attention to other important forms of party etiquette. Most importantly: don’t show up empty handed.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my reverence for this duty because there was quite a potluck spread at this party. Smoked wings, key lime pie, even some spinach dip that unexpectedly brought me back for seconds.
The selection for my dish was based on a massive surplus of Chino Farm strawberries. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that these strawberries can function as dessert in their own right—they have got to be the best strawberries you could ever expect to taste. And they absolutely shine when macerated as a topping for a lemony olive oil cake.
Strawberry olive oil cake
If you define a shortcake as a sweet and crumbly bread that has been leavened with baking powder and baking soda, then this this fits the literal definition. I would say the presence of olive oil makes this a bit of a twist on what is traditionally thought of as a strawberry shortcake, but I'll let my dear reader be the judge.
Olive oil cake
Adapted from The Great Outdoors Cookbook
- 2 large eggs
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°. Butter a cake pan or cast iron skillet (which is what I used). Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan or skillet and set inside. Butter parchment and dust pan with flour.
- Beat eggs in a large bowl with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Gradually add in sugar, beating on high speed until mixture is pale and leaves ribbons when you lift the whisk.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, whisking to incorporate. In a large measuring cup, combine milk, oil, lemon zest and juice, and whisk to combine.
- Alternating between the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients, starting with the dry, add each to the egg mixture about a third at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Once everything is added, scrape down the bowl and beat a few seconds longer to thoroughly combine all ingredients.
- Pour batter into pan or skillet and place in oven, immediately turning heat down to 350°. Bake for until cake pulls away from pan and toothpick inserted into center can be removed cleanly—this could be anywhere from 40 to about 50 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 15 minutes.
- If using a cake pan, loosen cake with a knife and carefully turn onto a plate. Remove parchment and carefully flip cake back onto rack. If using a cast iron skillet, you can simply allow to cool and cut slices directly from the pan, as I did.
- Serve slices doused with strawberry topping and whipped cream.
Macerated strawberry topping
3 to 4 lbs. strawberries (or to make things easy, just go for three or four baskets)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Quarter strawberries. Toss with sugar in bowl, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more to taste or to properly coat.
- Cover in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, but overnight is better.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional but recommended)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk cream until medium peaks form.