Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Butter Cake with Black Pepper Streusel

"Streusel" originates from a word meaning strewn or scattered in German. Streusel cakes have a long history in Germany. This version is a delightful, colorful cake showcasing seasonal fresh strawberries. I've tweaked the streusel, adding black pepper for a layer of spice flavor.

The yeasted dough cake base is smothered in lemon scented butter. A generous layer of luscious fresh strawberries is scattered over the cake creating the middle layer which is then topped with slightly spicy black pepper accented streusel topping. You can adjust the spice level in the streusel topping by simply adding more black pepper to taste. 

This cake takes a bit of time to make because there is a total rise time of one hour and 10 minutes. The other steps go rather quickly. Regardless, the results are worth the time investment. 

The recipe yields a very large cake, approximately 24 servings. A perfect addition to a summer barbecue or any occasion where you need a lovely dessert to impress a large group. 

Frozen strawberries can also be used for this recipe. However, make sure to defrost them. Drain off any excess liquid and then pat the drained and defrosted strawberries dry with a paper towel. 

You may want to save the liquid for future use such as creating strawberry syrup or adding to homemade salad dressing.

If you would like to make this cake without the black pepper streusel, sprinkle one-half of a cup of white granulated sugar over the layer of fresh strawberries before baking. You can also leave the black pepper out of the streusel completely for a more traditional version.

Strawberry Butter Cake with
Black Pepper Streusel
Prep Time: 135 minutes 
Bake Time: 30 minutes 
Yield: 24 pieces

For the cake:
  • 3+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons white granulated sugar. 
  • 2 packages of dry yeast
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
For the strawberry butter filling:
  • 2 packages fresh strawberries (about 6 cups whole), washed, hulled and cut into quarters, lengthwise. If the strawberries are extra large, cut them into 6 pieces. 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

For the black pepper streusel:
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • One stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (or more to your taste) 
  • Additional freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Grease and flour a 9" x 15" pan. 
  • Place the all-purpose flour in a bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the flour. 
  • Heat 1/2 cup of the buttermilk to lukewarm temperature. 
  • Add two tablespoons of white granulated sugar and both packages of yeast to the warmed buttermilk. 
  • Once the yeast has dissolved, pour it into the hollow in the flour. Knead the wet ingredients into the flour. Note: This "pre-dough" will be crumbly. 
  • It won't look like a cohesive lump of dough. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and store it in a warm place for 15 minutes. 
  • Heat up the remaining half cup of buttermilk to a lukewarm temperature. Cut four tablespoons of the unsalted butter into small pieces. 
  • Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk to lukewarm temperature. Remove and uncover the resting dough mixture and add the buttermilk, unsalted butter pieces, the egg, 1/4 cup of the white granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and knead into a smooth, shiny dough. Alternately, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for this step. Cover the bowl once more and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. 
  • Roll the dough evenly out onto the floured pan. Stow the pan containing the dough back in a warm place, uncovered and let it stand for 10 minutes more. The dough should rise slightly. 
  • Place 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until creamy and thoroughly combined. 
  • Melt the remaining butter. 
  • Use a wooden spoon to make indents about 1 inch each in diameter in the dough on the pan. Make about 16 of them in rows of four. 
  • Brush the entire dough with the melted butter. Then place roughly a teaspoon of the lemon flavored butter in each hollow in the dough. The lumps of butter do not have to be flush with the dough. If you have excess butter, create more indents and fill. 
  • Spread the fresh cut strawberries evenly over the top. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and in the meantime - Make the black pepper streusel: 
  • In a bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and the tablespoon of black pepper.
  •  Cut the butter into pieces and add them with the brown sugar to the peppered flour. 
  • Mix and knead everything with a wooden spoon until streusel crumbs form. You are looking to create pea-sized chunks. I prefer to use my hands instead of a spoon, rubbing the butter and sugar between my fingers until the streusel forms. Your choice. 
  • Taste the streusel and mix in more black pepper for your preferred level of spice. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the layer of fresh strawberries on the cake. 
  • Place the pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Tip: Place an aluminum foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet in the lower rack of the oven under the cake pan. This is to catch any drippings to spare an extra oven cleanup. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely. 
  • If desired, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper before cutting and serving.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting taste idea - adding pepper! This truly looks yummy... thanks for sharing.


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