My first strawberry recipe barely nudged the fruits into the realm of sweets. With a swipe of Brown Sugar and Greek Yogurt Dip, berries became dessert. There was no need for much more, each strawberry the equivalent of a new favorite song. Once I’d eaten a quart-yes, a quart!-I readied myself to bake with the berries. The question remained: Could a recipe highlight first-of-the-season strawberries without overwhelming them?
This simple one-layer cake contains an affirmative answer. The whole-wheat base has light but not cloying sweetness-essential when standing up to nature’s finest treats. Like most of my favorite baking recipes, this recipe can stand in for breakfast, afternoon tea, or post-dinner dessert.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch pie plate and dust with flour. Tap the plate so that only a thin coating of flour remains.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
3. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix on medium-low, until just combined. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, but do not overbeat.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, scraping the bowl between each addition of flour. Transfer the batter to the prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
5. Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days.