What is it about wanting what’s not in season? Here we are in the dead of winter and I want fruit. Fruit yogurt, fruit pies, fruit drinks…and on and on. I’m craving tart and sweet so I decided to pull out an old recipe given to me long, long ago. At least 3 decades ago.
I’d never had strawberry bread until the mid-1980’s and I’ve never been served nor seen it since then either. Strawberry pies, yes, cold ones with whipped cream. But warm, fragrant, cinnamon-y strawberry bread? No. And let me tell you right off the bat: this is not really bread. It’s strawberry cake. The only remote association this has with bread (just like banana bread) is that it can be presented sliced and without icing. So in all fairness, the name really should be strawberry breadcake.
I had a track athlete whose mom made this for me as a thank-you for bringing her daughter home from practice often. I begged for the recipe and I’d credit her if I could remember her name. The best part of the recipe is that it doesn’t call for fresh strawberries but frozen ones which are available all the time. So here it is, straight outta southeast Missouri’s Bootheel:
- 3 C self-rising flour OR 3 C flour with 1 t baking soda and 1 t salt sifted into it
- 2 C sugar
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 C pecan pieces (chopped small)
- 1 1/4 C vegetable oil
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 16 oz frozen sliced strawberries, thawed, drained, and cut down if large
It’s best to not use a mixer for this recipe. Sift the dry ingredients and pecans together in a large bowl and make a hollow in the center. Mix remaining ingredients except the strawberries in a separate bowl and pour into the hollow. Stir just until moist and then fold in the strawberries. Do not over-mix and break up the strawberries. Spoon gently into greased pans. Bake at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour if using a bundt or bread loaf pan and it’s a good idea to stick a knife in the center to test doneness. If it doesn’t come away clean of batter, it’s not done. Allow the pans to cool enough that you can handle them bare-handed before releasing from the pan – the loaves are very moist and will break up if released while hot. Wrap tightly after cooling.
Here are a few little pointers for a happy outcome if you like a nice presentation. I like decorative cakes that are low stress, so I use the Nordic Ware cake pans for heavy batters like this one. They have a couple of great qualities:
- they put a nice crunchy exterior texture on fruit batters
- they’re decorative, so if your batter is heavy and sweet, you don’t need icing to pretty it up – all you need is a snow of confectioner’s sugar.
And also with heavy batter, I never use a mixer. You definitely cannot use a mixer when adding the strawberries because they will turn to mush, create a pink batter, and then you lose the bite of strawberry in soft crumb that’s especially tasty.
Of the two pans I used, above, the snowflake one was the best result. It only took 45 minutes to cook and you can pull off small bites from it – they pulled away very easily. You always need two pans for this recipe to ensure the center cooks all the way through.
One last word – if you’ve had strawberry bread before, please leave a comment and tell me in what region you had them. I think they’re Southern origin but I’d be interested to know for sure.