As we head into berry season, I have to admit, I'm more than a little excited.
In Germany, there are whole issues of cooking magazine dedicated to strawberry recipes in anticipation of the season's crop. Perhaps it's all those years spent there anticipating strawberries.
When I was home in Germany a few weeks ago, a version of this strawberry torte jumped out at me from one of those magazines. I added basil to my version which I believe amped up the flavor. This is a perfect dessert to complement your Memorial Day barbecue menu.
I made this torte for Dr. B's birthday which was added to the cake table on his day for Kaffe und Kuchen zeit (coffee and cake time.)
Bookmark this one for when the strawberries in your market are their juiciest. You won't be sorry.
- 3/4 cup hazelnut flour or ground hazelnuts
- 1 lemon (preferably organic)
- 1 stick (one-half cup) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plus 3/4 cup white granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 lbs fresh strawberries, medium or small sized
- 2 packets of strawberry jello
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 eight oz packages of cream cheese
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) strawberry jelly or preserves
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil plus leaves for garnish
- Grease and flour a 9-10 inch heart shaped spring form pan and set aside.
- Place the hazelnut flour in a naked frying pan or skillet over medium heat and lightly toast the flour. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Zest and juice the lemon.
- Beat together the unsalted butter 1/2 cup of the white granulated sugar and the lemon zest until creamy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the toasted hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour and the baking powder.
- Add the dry mixture to the butter, sugar lemon batter alternating with the tablespoons of milk. Mix everything together until fully combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula or a pastry knife to smooth over the top so it's even.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 -15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
- Rinse the strawberries and drain. Cut the stems off and set aside.
- Separate 1/2 of the strawberries and transfer them to a food processor or blender and puree.
- Place the pureed strawberries in a saucepan. Mix in the contents of both envelopes of strawberry jelly and let stand 10 minutes.
- Heat the mixture. Do not let it boil. Stirring constantly until smooth.
- Transfer the strawberry jello mixture to a bowl. Let it cool to room temperature and them place it in the refrigerator for one hour until it has gelled.
- Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup white granulated sugar cream cheese, strawberry preserves and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Remove the cooled strawberry puree from the fridge. Fold in the strawberry cream cheese mixture. When it is fully combined, fold in the whipped cream. Then fold in the fresh chopped basil.
- Cut the heart shaped cake in half horizontally. you should have two pieces, top, and bottom that are a complete heart shape.
- Place the bottom half back on top of the bottom piece of heart shaped springform pan and enclose it with the outer part. Layer in 3/4 of the strawberry cream on top of the bottom half of the cake. Lay the top cake piece over the cream. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Cover the bowl with the rest of the cream at let it stay at room temperature.
- Use a small sharp knife to cut the strawberries in slices, the long way.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the outer ring and spread the remaining room temperature strawberry cream over the cake to cover it.
- Lay the strawberry slices on top of the cream covering the entire cake tops and sides. Place in the refrigerator for another hour.
- Remove the cake, transfer the cake to a serving plate, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.