cakedoodles

My sweet obsession

Strawberries Anyone?

I have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for strawberries.  Not just any strawberries; although I have been known to settle for hothouse berries from California in the weeks before the Jersey’s hit the road stands.  That’s right – Jersey’s – as in New Jersey – more specifically SOUTH JERSEY!!!  Contrary to popular belief (thank’s to a “made-for-tv” persona), New Jersey has some wonderful things going on here.  I can’t speak for our northern half, but you won’t find better home-grown treats anywhere.  Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, cranberries, grapes (Welches’ began in Vineland, NJ), and anything in the green vegetable family you can think of.  Another biggie is the Jersey tomato.  As a property manager, I look over a small, public airstrip. As soon as tomatoes are available, I get a call from a pilot that will fly in just to pick up a bushel or two.  And don’t even get me started about our Sweet Corn!  But, back to strawberries…

How does any of this relate to cakes?  Well, the last cake I made included a filling layer of fresh-sliced strawberries.  It went over very well with the attendees at the party so I decided that it would be a good idea to get some in my freezer for future cakes.  Strawberry season lasts only a few weeks, so you have to get them when you can.

I am not accustomed to freezing my fruit, as I like it right out of the flat.  I decided to search the internet to find the best way of “putting them up” (as my Grandmom Eva used to say – although I think she was talking about canning, not freezing.  Anyway, for those of you that are interested, here is the process.  I am also including a recipe for shortcake that I found and hope you enjoy.

FREEZING STRAWBERRIES:

Place berries (about a quart) in a large bowl of cold water.  Swish them around and feel for soft or bruised ones (remove those).

Move the berries to a colander to drain.  Do not dump them from the bowl, as there will be sand at the bottom.  Use a large slotted spoon or your hands to transfer them.

Rinse them again with the sprayer from your sink.

I use a sharp paring knife to cut off the tops and any green tips, moving the cleaned berries to a new bowl as I go along.

Now, you can leave them whole or slice them at this point.  I did some both ways.  To slice them, I use a good quality egg slicer – just be sure the berries aren’t overripe or they’ll mush.

Next, (if they are whole) lay them on a double layer of paper towels to remove any excess water from the rinsing process.  If they are sliced, move right to the next step, as you don’t want to draw out any of their juice.

Place them in whatever freezer container you choose, following the manufacturer’s directions.  I use Reynold’s vacuum seal freezer bags in 1 Quart size.  I prefer small bags – it gives me the ability to use just what I need.

That’s it.  Just don’t forget to leave some out for the shortcake!

PREPARING STRAWBERRIES FOR SHORTCAKE:

  • This is easy and sooooo good.  I prefer sliced strawberries to mashed ones, but either way is fine.
  • To slice, do the same as above – use a good quality egg slicer and place them in a glass bowl.  Be sure the bowl is big enough to hold all of your berries and the liquid they will make.
  • Take a fair amount of white sugar (or splenda) to coat the berries.  Stir them up to be sure they are all covered with sugar.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours (if you can wait that long!)

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE:
(you can find this at Allrecipes here)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Directions
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Beat the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy your shortcake with the prepared strawberries and some fresh whipped cream or non dairy whipped topping (my daughters’ favorite).

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