I started work on this recipe last year, and didn’t get it quite where I wanted it. Then, along came cherries, and I got distracted.
I came back to it this year though, because it is definitely worth getting right, and now I am very happy with this final version.
Local strawberries are just now coming into season here – we will have them for about a month or so, but no longer than that. Pick-your-own strawberry places are big around here, and I think you can find them just about anywhere. Larry’s Mom always took the girls with her, and I could send along some big pots and few bucks, and end up with pounds of luscious red berries that I didn’t have to pick! An hour or so of stemming and slicing, and I could get a dozen bags or so of fresh berries into the freezer for treats later in the year.
Alas, those days are now gone, and if I want to save money, I have to pick them myself. It’s not so bad though – the weather isn’t terribly hot yet when strawberries come into season, and if you go with a friend or two it can be a fun outing.
Sometime in the next couple years, we may plant some strawberries, but maybe not. They aren’t the easiest thing to grow, needing quite a lot of tending, and they are often fall prey to both inhospitable weather and various pests and diseases. Still, if we can get it right, they are awfully good. We’ll see how ambitious we get about it.
I did use fresh berries for this recipe, but frozen ones would work very nicely too – frozen berries will not keep their shape quite as well, but all of the flavor will still be there. Just thaw unsweetened berries completely and proceed with the recipe.
Strawberries are a particularly good choice for a coffee cake – the bright fresh flavor of the berries, plus the decadent cream cheese layer make this so special. It is definitely best the day it’s made, but you can reheat it a bit the next day if you have to make it ahead.
- 1¾ cups all purpose flour
- ⅔ cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup very cold butter, cut into small cubes
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Set the oven to 375º, and prepare two 9 x 5 inch bread pans by buttering generously and then lining with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the long way in the pans, with enough to drape over the edges a few inches. [this will ensure easy removal from the pans]
- Using a food processor, or a big bowl and a pastry cutter, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.
- Reserve ½ cup of this mixture for the topping.
- Add the sour cream to the rest and run the processor until the mixture is uniform.
- Divide this batter evenly between the two pans, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat [a hand mixer is fine here] together the cream cheese, egg, lemon juice and sugar.
- Divide evenly and spread the cream cheese over the cake mixture in the pans.
- Stir together the strawberries, ¼ cup sugar, cold water and cornstarch.
- Divide this mixture evenly and spread over the cream cheese layer, trying to get the berry slices laying flat.
- Finally, divide the reserved ½ cup of the cake crumb mixture and spread evenly over the berries.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, turning a couple times to ensure even baking. Check for doneness with a toothpick, making sure there is no cake batter on it, though of course there may be cream cheese and berries.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, and then carefully loosen the ends. Remove from pans with the aid of the parchment paper.
- Serve in slices, when still slightly warm. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
This was definitely waiting a whole year to get right – we were really sorry when we finished off the last slice. it’s a good thing we are at the beginning of the season, because I am pretty sure we will be having this again very soon!