Summer= Strawberries.

Summer weather has arrived, and it’s about time! Accompanied with a stuffed nose, itchy pallet, and a plethora of hives, lawns have been mowed and flowers have pollinated. Oh yes, living in a farm-happy valley with cottonwood lining the beautiful rivers, June is the time where I give up breathing normally. As a perpetually stuffed up sufferer of allergies, let me tell you, it is a challenge to always mouth breathe in a socially acceptable manner- do not invite me out to dinner, there has to be some creative hand covers. It’s a rough life alright. No taste, itchy pallet…just when all of natures beauties are coming out to play!

When I was younger, allergies weren’t just things that you struggled through during the day- they were at one moment totally debilitating, and the next moment completely forgotten, as are most ailments when your attention span is only as long as it takes to blink. I remember the dramatics that ensued when my eyes swelled up, screaming and crying in terror that I was going blind. I honestly believed, as I saw my lids thicken and slowly obscure my vision, that this was potentially the last time I would see the world. On the other hand, I developed a general dislike for field hockey, a popular sport for all girls in the valley, which can now specifically be identified as the misery inflicted by the pollen infested season that rendered my breathless (literally). A couple of blurry school camping trips (oh benadryl) resulted in my flipping off a BMX due to a delayed, drugged reaction to an approaching stump. The most tragic result of the allergies however, was the frustrating inability to taste any of my favourite foods.

Of course, when adequately medicated and locked inside the pollen-free safety of my home, there are moments when the allergy fog clears from your vision and taste returns. If I’m lucky, that happens in time to taste this dessert. This little number came as the result of some just ripened strawberries I found gracing our fridge. Yes, it is that season (finally!). Now, few things have as much natural affinity for each other as lemon and strawberries. Arguably, strawberries and oranges do a world of wonder for each other as well, so free to substitute orange as you see fit.

Strawberry Lemon Cake

1/3 c unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for dish
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (if it’s handy in the cupboard, I used cake flour for an extra fine crumb)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
zest of two lemons
3 cups sliced strawberries

1) Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 10″ pie pan (or your new silicon baking dish that you were just wanting to try out…)

2) In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

3) In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy (~4 minutes with an electric mixer). When adequately fluffy and noticeably paler in colour, add the egg, milk, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined.

4) Add the dry mixture into the butter mixture in 3-4 portions, and mix until just smooth.

5) Pour into prepared dish. Arrange strawberries on top in a single layer. If the sugar bowl is kicking around, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the whole lot.

6) Bake cake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. To test, use the toothpick method- stick a toothpick in, and if it comes out free of batter, it’s all done! Let it cool to room temperature on a rack. Serve with whipped or iced cream. If you just so happened to make strawberry jam that same day (or have some in the fridge), drizzle it over for a maximum strawberry experience.