Eat local. It’s the new thing. Well, kind of.
These days, people eat locally-produced goods to support farmers and merchants and help the environment (sure, we love asparagus from Chile, but shipping it across the world is not so good for Mother Nature). Florida’s geography proves challenging to that practice, since everything is so spread out!
Many states have huge farmer’s markets and farm delivery co-ops stocked with everything local, from produce to meats, that sells like hot cakes. Tampa? We’ve got a little organic farm and a budding farmer’s market that seems to be more for hacky-sack competitions. Our state’s farms are predominantly in Central, inland Florida; just a quick hour and a half drive northeast. It’s a noble idea. But are you gonna drive to those farms? Aren’t you then doing harm to the environment by doing all of that driving?
The farmer’s markets (like the Tampa Downtown Market and the Hillsborough Ave Market) seems to be our only way to eat locally grown foods and actually know what farm it came from – in every month other than January and February. Summer is the time to buy locally in every Florida supermarket chain. Thanks to our backward growing season, you can find Ruskin tomatoes (so good they only need a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt), citrus from all over the state, and Plant City strawberries.
Go take an adventure and buy some strawberries. Go support your local farmers and markets. Oh, and make a cake while you’re at it. This one is one of our summer favorites.
We hope you enjoy!
Farmer’s Strawberry Cake
For the Cake
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, dried, and sliced
For the Butter Cream Frosting
2 cups shortening
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract
6 fluid ounces heavy cream
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned, dried and sliced for garnish
For the cake:
Set rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Butter the bottom of two 9-inch round or one 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add strawberries and mix well. Scrape the bowl and beater often.
Pour the batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth top. Bake cake(s) about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, remove paper and let cool completely. Using a medium cookie cutter, cut circles from cake.
For the frosting:
Cream shortening until fluffy. Add confectioner's sugar and continue creaming until well blended.
Add salt, vanilla, and whipping cream blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional whipping cream if necessary (up to 2 ounces). Beat at high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.
Place one cake round on plate. Using a pastry-piping bag, make a ring of frosting on top of cake. The frosting will act as the “glue” to hold the cake up right. Fan strawberries in preferred design on top of frosting. Pipe another ring of frosting on top of strawberries. Fan more strawberries. Pipe another ring of frosting. Place another circle of cake on top of strawberries. Pipe frosting on top of cake circle and garnish with more strawberries.