Sweet Friendship & Strawberry Almond Country Cake


As it happens, baking not only contributed to me winning Boyfriend’s heart, but was also a huge part of another meaningful relationship during college.
Truly, it was our sorority that brought Sarah and I together…along with Spanish class, working at the on-campus coffee shop together, and at ONE point—not now, thank goodness—both dating guys in the same fraternity. Sophomore year, I got it in my head that I wanted to make applesauce…yes, applesauce. I told Sarah about this hankering of mine during a shift at the coffee shop, and she thought it was a fun idea, so we made it a date. (My very first baking date!)

We were SO excited. So excited, in fact, that we were standing in front of the oven burners for a good 20 minutes waiting for the pan of apples and water to boil before we realized that SOMEONE had turned on the wrong burner (It wasn’t me…It was her apartment!). Eventually, and miraculously, the applesauce came together and we proudly walked a bowl of it around our dorm, trying to get everyone to try it.
Jump forward about a year…

The same semester that Boyfriend and I met, Sarah and I were both elected onto our sorority’s executive board. We absolutely loved our positions and working together, but lets be honest: leading a group of 50-60 girls is NO cakewalk…it’s more like a food fight. (hmm too corny?)
We coped by baking together, a ritual that evolved into “Baking & Grey’s (Anatomy)” every Thursday. It was probably one of my favorite days of the week, and one of the things that I miss the most about college. Nothing is better than spending time talking, baking, eating and relaxing with a good friend. NOTHING. Even when the result of the recipe isn’t exactly what you pictured. :-)

Sarah and I have baked so many recipes that I’ve just about lost the count—sugar cookies, berry cobbler, Sarah’s grandmother’s lemon scones, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, zucchini chocolate cake, and vegan oatmeal cookies (when she decided to give up ALL animal products for lent) are just some highlights. And through all of our baking adventures, one thing I’ve discovered about Sarah is her extreme love of almond.  So I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe in honor of this obsession.


I tried this recipe a few months ago after a strawberry-picking excursion. It’s simple and easy, incredibly DELICIOUS…and pretty in a “Little House on the Prairie” way. I wish Sarah had been with me to bake it. Unfortunately, I was forced to eat it almost entirely by myself. And that, my friends, is why I am officially signed up and training for the Richmond Half Marathon!

 



Baking with friends is sweet.
Strawberry Almond Country Cake
Slightly Adapted, taken from Martha Stewart

Servings:  ~8

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon almond extract (if you don’t like almond, you may sub for vanilla)
About 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Mix flours, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl; and with an electric mixer, mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to medium-low; and add egg, milk, and almond extract.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour mixture. Pour batter into the prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, with cut sides down and as close together as possible. Lastly, sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes, and then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake about 1 hour or until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

Nutritional Information: 
Calories: 280 

(slice = 1/8th of cake)

Total Fat: 9 grams

Protein: 4 gram
Sugar: 30 grams


Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies – It all started with a chocolate chip cookie…

Hi, friends and followers! With this being my very first entry, I felt it was appropriate for me to start at the beginning. When did my obsession with eating food officially develop into a passion to bake?

 

It started with a chocolate chip cookie…and a boy.

 

Fall semester of junior year, I was setup on a semi-blind date for a military college’s ring ball. And believe it or not: this blind date turned into a real date, and that real date eventually turned into a relationship. Boyfriend—as I will refer to him here on out, unless he has another preference—was sweet in every sense of the word (still is!). At some point in the beginning of our courtship, he asked me to send him chocolate chip cookies. Being that I was his new girlfriend, I felt the extreme need to bake to impress. I was home for the weekend and spent hours searching the web for what I thought would be the best cookie OF ALL TIME that would in turn make me the best girlfriend OF ALL TIME.

 

When I finally decided on a recipe, I baked them, I packaged them in a newly purchased Tupperware container, and shipped them off to that majestic military school (sigh). He loved them, of course, and eventually he loved me too—for hopefully more than just the endless stream of cookie and brownie packages I sent (which continued until our graduations, a year later).

 

Over those three semesters, I baked at least 10 different chocolate chip cookie and brownie recipes for him. While some were complete flops, not chewy or fudgy enough, others were so yummy that I was sad to see them wrapped and sent…BUT, nevertheless, what made me absolutely ridiculously fantastically happy (aside from boyfriend) was baking! While I didn’t have a lot of extra time in college (I might have been an over-achiever), I started reading baking blogs and set aside time to bake at least a couple times a month.

 

Over the last 2 years, I have discovered that baked goods are so much more than something to gobble down for breakfast, birthdays, after dinner, or when in a bad mood. Baking and sharing is a stress-reliever, friendship-builder, master distracter, skill developer, a display of love and appreciation, and so much more. I am so excited to extend my passion and true love of sweetness onto this blog! While Pursuit of Sweetness is intended to be a collection of personal stories and sweet recipes, it is my hope that one day this project will develop into something much more.

 

For now, enjoy the recipe and come back soon!

 

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 dozen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (4 cups)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly stir in flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. On an un-greased cookie sheet, drop spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
  6. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown.
Notes
Slightly Adapted, taken from Betty Crocker
 
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