Whole Wheat Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

I've spent the past several weeks craving hearty, wholesome things. Bowls of creamy risotto made with farro instead of rice. Quinoa tossed with sautéed mushrooms, herbs, and handfuls of crumbled feta. Nearly too-ripe bananas whipped with honey, peanut butter, and thick creamline milk. It's summer and it's hot, but my appetite has been veering towards that of a farmgirl in autumn.

Coupled with an insatiable urge to bake, I came up with this cake: Whole wheat flour and flax for that nubby, nutty taste. Buttermilk because it had to be used (isn’t that always the case with buttermilk?). Fresh strawberries sliced in half for big generous bites. Peach jam instead of sugar (because I'd mostly run out), but for texture, a sprinkle of sweet turbinado crystals (from a packet I found crumbled at the bottom of my purse).

The cake baked up perky and brown, with little bits of strawberry juice bubbling just around each bite of fruit. I set it to cool on a rack by an open window and after a while it sighed and relaxed into itself just a bit. I quickly took a photo and then cut myself a slice as I could wait no longer. The first bite was heavenly...still hot and pudding-like. I ate it quickly and helped myself to another.

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Whole Wheat Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I love the Whole Foods whole wheat pastry flour that’s light and soft)
2 tablespoons ground flax (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup peach or apricot preserves
1 stick butter
1 (generous) teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup whole buttermilk

1 pint strawberries, washed, stemmed, and cut in half

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (“sugar in the raw”)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9” springform pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, flax, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set this aside.

In the base of your mixer (if you have one) beat the butter and preserves until well combined. Add the vanilla and the egg and beat in. Add the buttermilk and then the flour, until it’s all just combined.

Pour the batter into your baking tin and then drop the strawberry halves in all over the cake. It’s OK if they fall on top of each other...some of them are bound to sink in. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar all over the top and then put the whole thing in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out dry.

Let cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes then release the sides and take out the cake. Let cool (as much as you can) before enjoying.

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