Episode Four: Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake
Happy Sweet Enough publication day! (And also Home Movies Tuesday!)
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Hello and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO THE THIRD FAMILY MEMBER, Sweet Enough. I’m so glad it’s finally here so I can ask you all to stop pre-ordering (I will switch to asking you to regular-order, if you haven’t already).
It’s currently 5:43 am and I’m getting ready for THE TODAY SHOW, where I’ll be making a Many Mushrooms Pot Pie (from the savory section of the book) with everyones favorite TRL host, Carson Daly. The guest right before me will be Mary J Blige, and that is extremely exciting to me [EDITORS NOTE: IM AWAKE FROM THE NAP, THE CLIP IS BELOW!].
After maybe a small nap and 63 cups of coffee, I’ll be heading over to The Ed Sullivan Theater for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where I will struggle to keep my composure in his presence. The other guest this evening on the show will be…Mary J Blige???? You can’t plan this sort of kismet, but I guess you could say Mary and I are having a real DAY together. Can’t wait to see where this budding friendship takes us. Please tune in to one or both!
If you’re not a TV person: Listen to this episode on StraightioLab, wherever you get your podcasts. I swear I have never had a better time on a recorded interview (except the one I did coming out on Thursday 👀).
Read this interview with UK Vogue, wherever you do your online reading (online). It’s been a long three years since my last book, and feeling extra proud, extra emotional about the release of this one.
Anyway, today’s video serves two purposes: One, to give you an excellent recipe for an Old Fashioned Strawberry Cake that tastes like a donut; and two, to introduce you to some of the people who made this book possible. The brilliant photographer, Chris Bernabeo, the incredible designer, Britt Cobb (neither of whom had done a cookbook before—and a large part of why I wanted to work with them both,) and Aminatou Sow, my brilliant friend/model/moral support here with some very good BTS accounting. We also reveal the identity of “Hot Man in Printed Jorts Swimwear.”
For this book I wanted the photos to feel very intimate, juicy and personal, and felt like the best do that was to have a small, intimate, personal (juicy?) team. One photographer. One assistant. No prop styling, no food styling, no hair, no makeup, and if you were going to be “on set,” you had to hold a dessert and let us take a photo. Rules are rules!
There were of course many more involved in the making —my wonderful editor Francis Lam, the whole team at Clarkson Potter, including my favorite copy editor of all time, the retouchers for the images, the delightful recipe testers, the lovely Jane Morgan who assisted on all our shoots, etc etc etc— but we’ll save it for the big budget Miss Americana style documentary (jk, there is no documentary).
Thank you to everyone who’s followed along on this month long Home Movies x Sweet Enough journey that culminates in TODAY, the release of the actual book. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, consider picking one up from your local bookseller (bookshop.org is a great resource for independent stores that ship nationwide, sometimes worldwide). For links on where to to find signed copies and seek out international editions, head here.
While all US events are SOLD OUT, DC is still selling virtual tickets (information here), and Powell’s in Portland, Oregon is non-ticketed, first come, first served. So come first, get served, etc.
OR: You can always come over to Australia? I am doing events in Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, in Brisbane and in Sydney at a little venue called THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE. More than kvelling! Ticket info for all venues here.
And!!! Because I know it’s been desserts desserts desserts: This THURSDAY, you get a little Home Movies Passover, as a treat (there is still dessert). Home Movies never rests (this month at least— then we’re taking a little break and will see you again April 18). Prepare thy brisket!
Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
As you may have noticed, there is no deep-frying in this book. Not because I don’t enjoy the occasional donut, cruller, churro, or other deep-fried delight, but because: No, I will not be doing that. I will not heat up a large pot of oil and drop in the batter and fry, hoping I have not undercooked the insides or overly fried the outsides, then have to deal with the hot oil—even typing that feels exhausting. Not in my home, anyway.
But the taste. The taste of a cake donut haunts me. Its vaguely vanilla flavor, deeply golden exterior, crumbly-yet-compact interior is hard to get without a fryer. Yet somehow this cake comes extremely close.
2 cups/290g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons/8g baking powder
¾ teaspoon/3g kosher salt
1 stick/4 ounces/115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup/70g granulated sugar
⅓ cup/75g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup/180g buttermilk
10 ounces/295g strawberries, hulled and sliced ¼ inch thick (or halved blackberries, blueberries, pitted sweet cherries, sliced peaches, or figs)
3 tablespoons demerara sugar (you can use granulated sugar in a pinch)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (either cut to fit the bottom, or leaving some hanging over the edges for easy removal).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together on medium-high, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything incorporates, until the mixture is pale, light, fluffy, and creamy, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. (This is a good time to scrape down the sides again.)
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and carefully add half the flour mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, beating just until no large lumps remain.
6. Using a spatula, gently fold in half the strawberries and transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan. Scatter with the remaining strawberries and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake until the cake is puffed, deeply golden brown, and pulling away at the sides, 45–50 minutes. (It should spring back slightly when pressed in the center and appear fully baked where the strawberries meet the cake.)
7. Let the cake cool completely before eating.