sarah jampel's strawberry snacking cake
Sarah Jampel, at Bon Appetit, tried this cake nine times before she got it right. It’s a cornmeal olive-oil cake with pockets of strawberry jam, topped with macerated strawberries suspended in a sugary crust. The cornmeal adds texture; the olive oil adds depth; a good amount of lemon and a bit of sour cream makes it tangy and tender and bright. All of this balances out the sweetness of the jam and the fresh berries, which together intensify the strawberry flavor throughout. The key revelation here is baking the cake large and shallow, creating an optimal strawberry-to-cake ratio. The strawberries sink and shrink just so, releasing enough of their sweet juice to make the cake delicious without getting soggy.
Sarah Jampel’s Strawberry Snacking Cake
Barely adapted from Bon Appetit.
You can substitute full-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream and medium-grind cornmeal for fine-grind (if, like me, that’s usually what you have on hand). The texture will be grainier and a little more dense, but it will still taste delicious.
Makes one 9x13” cake.
8 ounces strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more for pan
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) fine-grind cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably Bonne Maman)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Gently toss strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
Grease a 9x13" pan with oil. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two long sides. Grease parchment with oil. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 1 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine. Using a spatula, gradually fold in 3/4 cup oil until batter is smooth and homogenous with all of the oil incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. Using a butter knife or small offset spatula (or toothpick), gently swirl jam into batter. Arrange reserved strawberries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points (they’ll shrink as they bake). Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes longer). Cake will last up to 4 days at room temperature, covered with foil.