Happy 4th, everyone!
I really love America. I was born in Greenwich, CT, my father German and my mother American. Although I grew up in various European countries, I spent every summer of my childhood in Connecticut and Long Island and loved every second of it. I have never in my life felt more welcomed to a community than I did when we moved to Westfield, NJ (it’s where @kirstyboch and I met!) and I was heartbroken when we had to leave after three super happy years.
But Independence Day feels different this year. It seems like the country is completely divided on so many issues that everything feels a bit bleak.
It’s high time people remember that we all, no matter what color skin, creed or orientation, have more commonality than differences; that human is human is human, that everyone’s feelings have the same worth.
So my wish for this year’s Fourth? That we remember that we’re stronger together and that we never stop being curious about - and open minded with - each other.
I will now proceed to get off my soap box and encourage you to make this absolutely gorgeous Berry Brita Cake by Susan Spungen for your red, white and blue celebrations.
A delicious sponge cake baked with fluffy meringue atop, slathered with whipped cream and dotted with berries, the recipe to which you can find via the link in our bio.
If that won’t bring us all together I don’t know what will! 😉
I’ll leave you with these wise words of the incomparable Bob Dylan:
I ain't lookin' to compete with you
Beat or cheat or mistreat you
Simplify you, classify you
Deny, defy or crucify you
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you.
For the cake:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, preferably organic, scrubbed
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the berries:
2 pounds strawberries (or any mix of seasonal berries)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Aperol or St. Germain (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces crème fraîche
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan. Press a piece of parchment paper large enough to go up the sides of the pan on all sides into the pan, running your hand across the bottom to adhere it.
2. Butter the bottom of the parchment.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. In a stand mixer on medium-high speed, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and beat to combine well. Zest the lemon directly into the bowl and beat briefly to combine. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low speed jut until combined, scraping once or twice.
5. Spread in the prepared pan and set aside. Wash and dry the bowl thoroughly, and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup sugar and beat on high speed until stiff and glossy. Beat in the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon on top of the cake batter, spreading almost to the edges. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meringue is beginning to turn golden and the cake is done. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out dry. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Lift the parchment by the corners and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
6. To make the berries: When getting ready to serve, hull and halve the strawberries and toss with the sugar and Aperol, if using. Let sit until juicy, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the cream, crème fraîche, and vanilla paste in a clean mixer bowl and whip until softly mounding but holding its shape. (g&b note: I tasted this mixture and found a bit of sugar lacking, so I added a tablespoon of sugar. Try it and see how you feel. If adding, mix 1 tbsp sugar (or more to taste) into the cream mixture.) Spread the cream on top of the cake, and top with the berries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
7. Serve immediately!
Up to 4 hours ahead: Bake the cake.
Up to 45 minutes ahead: Make the cream mixture and chill
Cut up the strawberries and macerate them.
Recipe by Susan Spungen from Open Kitchen, 2020.