Busy-Day Cake or Sweet Bread, adapted from Edna Lewis’ “The Taste of Country Cooking”
From the lady herself: Busy-day cake was never iced, it was always cut into squares and served warm, often with fresh fruit or berries left over from canning. The delicious flavor of fresh-cooked fruit with the plain cake was just to our taste and it was also refreshing with newly churned, chilled buttermilk or cold morning’s milk. (p. 86)
From me: On a busy day, and for a lazy day, leave out the butter, eggs and buttermilk for a few hours or so while you do other things (go for a run, bring cookies to a party, make dinner); it's surprisingly simple to cream butter and sugar by hand when the butter is soft enough and you won't have to drag out the mixer. I had lots of strawberries (again!) in the fridge, so I cut them up and folded them into the cake just before baking. I also did indeed have a bit of newly-made jam from another canning project, and so we ate this for dessert on Sunday night with warm strawberry preserves and a cup of tea. I brought the leftovers in today and I can say this cake only improves with age.
Makes 8+ servings
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1+ tablespoons coarse sugar (I used turbinado)
optional: 1 cup (or more, depending on taste) sliced strawberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan. (I used a 6-inch and a mini loaf pan.)
In a large bowl, blend the butter and sugar by hand until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the batter with a wooden spoon after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the butter/etc., in three additions, starting with ½ cup of flour and ⅓ of the milk, and ending with the remaining flour. Stir well after each addition.
Spoon the batter into the cake pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Fold in the sliced strawberries if using. Sprinkle the coarse sugar evenly across the top. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Jerilee says: This might be my favorite thing you've ever made! The strawberries really bring out the flavor ...