Strawberry Cake & Mahan

Do you remember how you spent your summers when you were 7 or 8 years old?

As far as back as I remember, we would travel from Bam to Mahan*, a small village in Kerman providence, where my aunt Fatimeh and her husband Feridon had a summer house, a true oasis of fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables with a running creek.

 

As I get older, I have a different appreciation for the simple life that we had back then.  There was no cell phones, there was no internet, and there was no video games, but life was anything but boring. We were busy exploring the nature. Picking eggs from the chicken coops, helping my aunt pick apricots and peaches from under neat the trees, feeding Akbar-Kar, one of their gardeners. Akbar was deaf and Kar in Farsi means deaf, that was his nickname. But we all loved playing in the running creek for hours until our feet and leg would get all wrinkly and numb. 

And then, there was Tut-tekoni , Tut means berries & tekoni means shaking, shaking the mulberry & blackberry trees to collect fresh berries without hand picking one by one.  A ceremony that would involve the young and old. Akbar-javad, the young gardener, would climb up the double deck tree and we all circle around the tree, holding the large piece of fabric to collect the fruits. Akbar would shake the tree and the rain of berries would fall on us. There was berries everywhere; in our hair, inside our clothes and shoes. There was laughter and joy and there was jamming and baking.....lots of it.

So back to now and today, I made this strawberry cake simply because I love berries and it reminds me of Mahan and my aunt Fatimeh.

The cake is dense, moist, and utterly delicious with chunks of fresh fruits. I am personally not a fan of overly decorated or sweet cakes and putting a thin layer of cream cheese frosting with lots of fresh fruits will do the trick for me, but you can decorate it as you wish.

Notes:

Berries make great additions to cakes, adding natural sweetness and a splash of intense color. But when using fresh berries, pay attention to the followings:

When baking with fresh berries, lightly dust them with flour as it stops the berries from sinking though the batter and forming a layer on the bottom of your cake also prevents them from staining your cake batter too much.

Try and add your berries as late in the mixing process as possible and stir very gently. If you mix too vigorously, you can bruise the fruits, damaging their skins and causing the berries to stain the cake. 

To make sure the cake comes out clean, first add a layer of the cake batter into the cake tin, then add berries into the batter, mixing gently. Try filling you tin a quarter of the way, add a few berries, then put some more batter on top.

 

Dusting fresh berries with flour prevents them from staining your cake.
Bubbles give cakes a tender, open crumb. Gradually adding the dry ingredients keeps those bubbles from popping.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

Serves 6-8 | Bake time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 225g sugar
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g flour + 3 tablespoons flour separated for sprinkling over strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed, dried & cubed

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C, have a 9" cake pan ready, spray and sprinkle some flour or cover with parchment paper
  2. Sift the flour with baking powder and set aside
  3. Toss the cubed strawberries into 3 tablespoons and set them aside, we're going to use them towards then end.
  4. Using a stand mixer and cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy and light
  5. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated, add vanilla & mix
  6. Using a spatula slowly or on the lowest speed of the sand mixer and very gently alternate addingthe flour & the milk in three or four addition, always start with the dry.
  7. Pour a thin layer of cake batter into the cake pan, mix in the strawberries into the remaining batter and add to the plain layer.
  8. Bake at 375°F /175°C for 45 minutes or until the tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes, then invert.
  10. Decorate with a layer of cream cheese frosting and top with fresh berries.

                                                            ~ Enjoy ~

 

Mahan is a lovely quiet village in the middle of a vast valley surrounded by mountains. Mahan is also home to two of the most visited historic places: Bagh-Shahzdeh dated back to Qajar dynesty & Shah Nimatollah Wali shrine, the house of Sofi master and poet also back in Qajar dynesty.

If you ever travel to Iran, be sure to visit these amazing places. The architect is unique, the surrounding nature is breath taking, & the peace and harmony vibes are so contiguous that you immediately feel calm and serene.