The strawberries are here! We love the first berries of the summer season: plump, sweet, red morsels of fruit with tiny seeds dotting their exterior. Strawberries right off the plant warm with the morning sun, strawberries sliced with maple syrup and smothered with heavy cream, strawberries in salads and smoothies, strawberry ice cream and cold strawberry soup. How can anyone resist a fresh strawberry?
Ripe strawberries don’t keep well, although a day or two in the refrigerator will extend their life briefly. Personally, I prefer berries that have never been chilled, as the sugars continue to develop as the berry ripens.
To obtain the best flavor from berries, it helps to either slice or mash them. A little maple syrup or sugar will allow the juices to form. That’s the time to make strawberry shortcake.
My culinary fever quickens to read about the way old time Mainers made strawberry shortcake in the book, “Good Maine Food”, compiled by Marjorie Mosser, niece and secretary to Kenneth Roberts, the historical novelist. “At least two layers of hot biscuit dough…heavily buttered….crushed fresh strawberries, sweetened and poured thickly… topped with heavy yellow cream.” At the first of the season, we’ll often indulge and have a true Maine strawberry shortcake for supper.
For the times that we can’t finish all the strawberries, a batch of Strawberry Poppy Seed bread is tasty. The idea for the recipe comes from “Simply in Season,” a cookbook that celebrates fresh, local foods. Although not as decadent as strawberry shortcake, this recipe makes a perfect slice to enjoy with your morning coffee or afternoon tea. Plus you get the nutritional benefits of Vitamin C, potassium and iron. Who doesn’t love a fresh strawberry?
Strawberry Poppy Seed Bread
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1¼ cups strawberries mashed
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch bread pan.
- Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together the oil and eggs. Add the egg mixture and the mashed strawberries to the dry ingredients and stir to just combine. Spoon into pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 – 60 minutes.
- Let cool on rack before slicing.