The BEST cake recipe from California’s strawberry capital
“Are these strawberries from Oxnard?” Asked the 12-year-old as he dug into the strawberry crumb cake in Malibu in Mother’s Day.
“Yes, they are. They were fresh picked this morning,” I responded.
“Good, because the best strawberries are from Oxnard.” And, with that we polished off the strawberry crumb cake from the quick and easy recipe below.
If you’re a fan of strawberry shortcake, (and who isn’t), you are going to love this sweet and tangy cake recipe. It offers many similarities to traditional shortcake like the sweetness of the fruit and the tang of the buttermilk. Only it’s reimagined as a cake with the crunch of a crumb top and the simplicity of serving by the slice.
Strawberry crumb cake ingredients
Obviously, the key ingredient to any tasty strawberry baked goods is great, fresh strawberries. (Do not try to make this cake with frozen strawberries.) Once, you’ve got those berries, most of the other ingredients are pretty straightforward for any baker, except maybe a few of the filling ingredients.
- Cornstarch slurry – First of all, you’re going to make a cornstarch slurry. This is a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and a liquid, (in this case water). A slurry is used to thicken sauces, like this strawberry filling. It must be mixed together thoroughly (no lumps) before you add it to the berries if you’re going to create a successful filling.
- Vanilla bean – The other somewhat “exotic” ingredient in the filling is the paste inside a whole vanilla bean. Cut the bean in half lengthwise then gently scrape out the insides, which will almost look like paste. You can add the leftover pod to a can of coffee grounds to make vanilla coffee. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can use pure vanilla extract but it lacks the intensity of real vanilla.
- Fresh lemon juice – The lemon juice for this strawberry filling must be freshly squeezed. If you try to use bottled juice, the final flavor won’t have the right balance of sweet and tart.
The rest of the ingredients are things anyone who loves to bake will have in their pantry. (Note that you will need both granulated sugar and light brown sugar to make this coffee cake recipe.) And make sure that your baking powder is fresh. If it’s more than a year old, it’s definitely too old to work effectively.
A substitution for buttermilk
If you happen to be out of buttermilk, you can add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Stir and let it sit for 15 minutes until it starts to curdle.
To make a gluten free cake
If you want to make a gluten free version of this strawberry crumble cake recipe, you can use your favorite gluten free baking flour mix as a substitute for (all-purpose) wheat flour in both the cake and the crumb topping. Just keep in mind that changing the flour may change the texture of the cake but the flavor will still be delicious.
Tips for making the best strawberry crumble cake
This crumb cake, sometimes called a crumble cake, is one of the easier made-from-scratch cakes you’ll probably ever try to bake. The smartest thing to do is to make it in stages.
A simple, yellow cake is topped with ripe berries and a brown sugar crumb topping. No turning cakes out of the pan or frostings to contend with. This crumb cake doesn’t even call for a sweet vanilla glaze, like many coffee cake or crumble cake recipes. It doesn’t need it!
- The first thing you should prepare is the strawberry filling. Don’t try to rush the filling. It really needs to sit for half an hour in order to allow the berries to release their juices.
- Next, prepare the cake batter, which is a fairly straightforward yellow cake recipe. The secret to a fluffy cake batter is to cream the butter and sugar very well before adding the dry ingredients. This process makes for a more airy cake.
- The last part you want to make is the crumb cake topping recipe. Do not make the crumb topping in advance. To get a crumble topping with the right consistency, you must start with cold butter. Then after the topping is mixed and ready, you want it to go straight onto the cake. If it sits around the butter might warm up and make it mushy.
- Work from edge to edge as you spread the coffee cake crumble over the top of the fruit filling. This will help ensure that the coffee cake topping is spread evenly.
- Before you put the cake in the oven, place your cake pan on a baking sheet. This will prevent messes if any of the strawberry filling bubbles over.
- Cool the cake for about 20 minutes before serving. But keep in mind that this strawberry coffee crumb cake is best served warm. (Consider serving it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.)
Equipment needed for this homemade strawberry coffee cake recipe
This cake requires little in the way of special equipment. You’re going to want to use an electric mixer. Even if you have a strong mixing arm, electric beaters will do a better job of producing fluffy cake batter.
If you don’t have one already, check out this beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer. If you love baking, this stand mixer is worth the investment.
Why strawberry cake is a food of romance
Of course, if you’ve spent any time on this site, you already know that strawberries have a long and salacious history as aphrodisiacs.
Their brilliant color is as intensely red as any great lover’s heart. But strawberries, whether they come from Oxnard or other parts, are not just about the good looks. These little fruits of Venus are also filled with nutrients to support sexual health. In fact, strawberries make our list of the 10 Best Foods for Women’s Sexual Health.
It’s almost enough to make you feel good about eating that second slice of this irresistible strawberry coffee cake with crumb topping. Because trust me, you’re going to want it!
About Oxnard, the strawberry capital
To truly appreciate the origins of this fresh strawberry cake recipe, you should get to know Oxnard, California.
Only 36 miles up the coast from Malibu is the oft-overlooked town of Oxnard in Ventura County, California. It’s a little off the beaten path but a visit will offer the rewards of miles of uncrowded beaches and fantastic restaurants. (The Annex will be your new favorite food hall with both established restaurants and upstarts in a cool incubator setting.)
Family-friendly yet sophisticated, the city of Oxnard is a mix of farmers and entrepreneurs. It’s a place that’s guaranteed to surprise…in a good, bite-that-berry way.
If you visit Oxnard, I recommend staying at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay. This hotel is not the origin of this incredible cake recipe, it feels like a Hawaiian resort dropped next to the Oxnard beach. And as you can imagine, the hotel’s chefs know strawberries. And dining here in the right season can be strawberry paradise.
But even if you can’t get to Oxnard, you can create strawberry memories with the best crumb cake recipe from the hotel’s chef Michelle Kenney.
Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake
- 3 lbs strawberries hulled and halved (8 cups)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 1/2 tablespoons of water
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of Vanilla
- 1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter cubed and chilled
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick) softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
Make the Filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch slurry and vanilla seeds and let stand until the berries release some of their juices, about 30 minutes, while you make the cake batter.
Make the Cake Batter:
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
- Beat in the vanilla extract and scrape down the bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Make the Crumb Topping:
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients with your fingers until a coarse meal forms; press into small clumps, about the size of marbles.
To Bake the Cake
- Grease or coat a 9 x 13 pan with baking spray. Then set the pan on top of a sturdy baking sheet. (This is to catch any filling that may bubble out.)
- Pour the batter evenly into your prepared baking dish and spoon the fruit on top, spreading it to the edge.
- Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Serve the crumb cake warm. (Optional: top with vanilla ice cream.)
- Store leftover cake in the refrigerator overnight.
FREE APHRODISIAC NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our free aphrodisiac newsletter