Around our house, Friday nights always call for a little bit of a celebration. Now I know what your thinking… Friday night = Party night, but since Cole and I are just about the only 25 year olds on this planet who would much prefer to have a quiet night in rather than party it up on a Friday night, our Friday night celebrations are a little more on the subdued side, but that doesn’t make them any less special for us.
Our Friday night celebrations usually consist of Cole taking me out for dinner to one of our favourite restaurants such as Big Feast in Maple Ridge – Nom! Other times we catch the latest flick at the movie theatre, (usually he lets me choose :D) But more often than not, Cole and I opt for my favourite option, which is to get cozy and stay in on a Friday night. I know that to some people this may sound incredibly boring, but for Cole and I, it is a chance to really catch up on the events of each others week and make exciting plans for the weekend ahead of us.
On days such as this, when the Vancouver sun is still shining bright by the time we get home from work, we try to sneak in a walk along the Pitt River and bask in the fresh air a little bit before returning home for one of my home cooked meals and of course, le pies de resistance… a homemade dessert! Cooking after a busy day at work has really become one of my favourite things to do to unwind. Cole usually sits at the kitchen island, while I chop vegetables and roast chicken breasts (usually making a big mess in the process,) sometimes he makes conversation, while other times he is content to just quietly watch me prepare the meal and keep me company. Yes, I must admit it – this is my idea of the perfect way to spend a Friday night.
With all of that being said, because it is a Friday night – and we are a little bit shorter on time by the time we get home from work – I usually have to get a little creative with my meals and come up with ideas that are not only delicious and special enough for Friday night celebrations, but that are also quick and easy to prepare. Luckily I am always up for the challenge!
So what exactly is this devilishly good cake that I am raving about? Well, it is a perfectly moist vanilla cake that has been scented with just a hint of orange zest, topped off with a thick layer of luscious strawberries and finished off with an irresistibly buttery, spiced, crumble topping… have I got your attention yet?
When I am baking this coffee cake with dessert purposes in mind, I like to bake it in either a cast iron skillet, or in a nice ceramic baking dish and I will give you three reasons why…
1. Firstly, this cake is absolutely divine when you serve it warm with a nice, and by nice I mean large, scoop of vanilla ice cream, so baking it in a cast iron skillet or ceramic baking dish will keep it warm from the oven longer, and basically it will be the perfect temperature by the time you are finished eating dinner and ready to dig into cake.
Secondly, because the cake is already nice and warmly nestled into it’s nice baking dish, I see no reason for us to dirty up any more dishes on a Friday night, so I like to just plunk a nice scoop of ice cream right in the middle of the cake so that Cole and I can have at er’ straight from the warm baking dish… I mean who needs plates anyways?
Finally, This isn’t a particularly large cake recipe – in fact I would say it is the perfect dessert for two people because two people can share nice healthy portions for dessert, and still have a perfect amount leftover for a little breakfast cake the next morning. 😀 That’s right… I said breakfast cake – are you getting out your bowl to bake this coffee cake yet?
Alright, in all seriousness, this cake is absolutely to die for. The vanilla cake is moist, yet incredibly light and fluffy and with the addition of that orange zest is has just the right balance of richness and acidity to compliment those sweet, baked strawberries. That mouth-wateringly golden brown crumble is honestly the best crumble I have ever tasted to this day and when you pair it with those gorgeous, strawberries and that vanilla cake… it is like a fruit crumble and cake all in one… seriously need I say more? I personally don’t think further explanation is required, so here is the recipe 🙂
Okay – one more thing before I give it to you… You need to make sure that you grab a pen and take this recipe down because trust me… not only are you going to want to bake this coffee cake time and time again, but you are also going to want to use this crumble on everything once you get your hands on this recipe!
Fresh Strawberry Crumb Coffee Cake
Things you need…
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced into quarters
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
How to make…
Slice your strawberries and prepare your crumb topping first so it is ready for you once you have mixed you cake batter.
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or with your hands until a dense, crumbly dough forms. Set aside and prepare your cake batter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease either a 8×8 in baking dish or a 10 inch cast iron skillet.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and orange zest. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Add in all of the yogurt and mix on low to just combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix gently until there are no lumps in your batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth to even out the surface. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the batter, covering the top completely. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the stawberries to completely cover them.
**Tip – press handfuls of the crumb topping in your hands to produce nice large crumbly pieces.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least thirty minutes before serving.
There it is everybody – the recipe for my all-time favourite coffee cake and weeknight dessert! I really think once you give this one a try, you will be whipping it up as often as possible.
The beauty of this coffee cake is that it is so versatile! You can adjust the fruit in this recipe to suit whatever is fresh and in season. Swap out the strawberries for raspberries or blueberries while they are at their best at the beginning of summer. In the heat of the summer when August comes around, change gears by using some of the amazing tree fruits that are in season like peaches or plums. When the chill of fall starts to set in, take full advantage of apple season by using up some of those tangy granny smiths. Finally say hello to Winter and get into the festive spirit by using up some of those tart cranberries!
This really is a cake to be enjoyed through all of the seasons and you and your family can enjoy it slightly warm with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream or completely cooled as the perfect breakfast or brunch cake! So if you are looking for an easy weeknight dessert to make for your family this week I definitely hope you give this one a try!
Happy Baking, and have an amazing weekend everybody!