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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic: Cabin Fever? Berry Fever

For Easter Sunday, our food columnist made an old favorite with some new changes.

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic

Graphic by Rachel Wong

As flowers begin to bloom and the occasional breath of fresh air becomes more frequent, we know that spring is on its way. Unsurprisingly, my cabin fever is manifesting itself in a desire for fresh spring and summer produce, as evidenced by my recent YouTube history. I’m dreaming of Saturday morning trips to Minneapolis farmers’ markets to get June ramps, July corn and August tomatoes.

I’ll be playing with spring flavors: be prepared for several pistachio-infused desserts in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, I’m quickly approaching burnout and reverting to my tried and true recipes.

Several weeks ago, I shared a recipe for Strawberry Sumac Cake. My Easter Sunday consisted of visiting a friend's home to share brunch and complete the Sunday New York Times crossword. The day before, I prepared my cakes for the occasion. Since the last time I made this dish, I’ve been dreaming up improvements:

  1. Fewer strawberries on the outside

The most disappointing part of my previous attempt at the cake was that the strawberries placed on the outside of the cake were, when baked in the oven, too difficult to slice through once the cake cooled. Maybe I’m just a college student who lacks adequately sharp knives, but having to cut cake slices around strawberries was not ideal. I ended up slicing the strawberries very thinly and creating one even layer of strawberries on top of the cake, and this was much easier to cut through.

  1. More strawberries on the inside

I then increased the strawberry ratio on the inside of the cake. I had already purchased two containers of strawberries and was willing to use them all up in this recipe. The first container was thinly sliced to create a layer on the top of the cake. The second container was finely diced and tossed with brown sugar (a previous modification) and a tablespoon of sumac to macerate. Now, what is the result of adding more macerated strawberries to the batter? More liquid content. I also skipped the oat-based half-and-half – while I’d love to say this modification was planned, I didn’t notice it was missing since the cake had the liquid of the additional strawberries.

  1. Moist cake is good cake

There were several modifications I elected to keep from the previous version. Opting for brown sugar instead of white greatly increased the moisture content of the cake. I used brown sugar last time because we were out of white, but this played a pivotal role in retaining a good texture in the absence of half and half. And of course, to veganize this recipe, the only swap was replacing the eggs with one can of chickpea aquafaba.