Staying at home just got a whole lot better with this Strawberry Snacking Cake. Left on the counter for all-day grazing or served at an indoor picnic, this snack cake will disappear before you know it - at least it did in our house. Made from a single-layer of tender olive oil cake studded with lavender macerated strawberries, top it with whipped cream before stuffing it straight into your snacky pie hole.
What is a Snacking Cake?
Picnic cake, counter cake, coffee cake - all of these are prime examples of a snacking cake. The obvious meaning of a snacking cake is a cake you can snack on. I’m not talking about the three-layer cake you made for a special celebration and now you are snacking on leftovers at 1am. No, I am talking about a casual cake meant for grazing and eating at home.
The rules of a snacking cake are bendable. Bake it in a sheet pan or a loaf pan, top it with whipped cream or just a shower of powdered sugar - snacking cakes are easy-breezy, letting their simple flavors shine without needing all the bells and whistles. These unfussy cakes are quick to source and put together. They get eaten even faster.
I loosely define a snacking cake by its intention. Now normally I would say that this the type of recipe you making when having people over an a casual Tuesday afternoon for tea. But since that isn’t really happening right now, this is the type of recipe that adds a little sparkle to our days and keeps the weeks from becoming monotonous. They make for a perfectly acceptable breakfast and are excellent additions to my kids’ tea parties and indoor picnics. Do you need a celebration or special event to make a snacking cake? Absolutely not. Just waking up and getting dressed for another day at home is reason enough to make this Strawberry Snacking Cake. You deserve it!
How to Bake with Olive Oil
Substituting extra virgin olive oil for canola oil or melted butter in a recipe adds a bit more depth and flavor to fruit-forward, citrus, and nutty desserts and baked goods. It even pairs wonderfully with chocolate! Extra virgin olive oil imparts a slightly fruity flavor on quick breads, muffins, and especially snack cakes. Unsure of what it might taste like? Try using half olive and half canola oil in your next bake.
Select an olive oil that is delicate and not overly robust. It should be on the fruity, buttery side as opposed to grassy or peppery. No need to splurge on an expensive bottle of olive oil for baking. A mid-range bottle will suffice. Save the fancy stuff for drizzling, where the flavor isn’t interrupted by sugar and cream - like on fresh, sliced fruit or even ice cream, yum!
When shouldn’t you use olive oil in baking? You should always stick the ingredients when a recipe calls for solid fats. For example, if a recipe requires you to cream softened butter and sugar together, then don’t swap the butter for oil. In these recipes, the butter and sugar are aerated and are responsible for some of the “lift” within a recipe - a process that can’t be replicated with oil and sugar.
This cake comes together rather quickly with mostly pantry staples. Adapted from Bon Appetit, this version keeps the cute strawberry design, adds some optional lavender, and replaces the cornmeal for all-purpose flour. Made with sour cream and olive oil, this cake is super moist, tender, and easily whips up with just a hand mixer.
Macerating the strawberries draws out some of their juices and makes them super flavorful. For this recipe, I first created a lavender sugar before tossing in the sliced strawberries. If you don’t have lavender or prefer not to use it, just use plain granulated sugar in the recipe. Likewise, you can skip the lavender-infused cream and just whip cold cream before serving. If you are planning to infuse your cream, then make sure it complete cools and is chilled before using.
For the strawberry design, place the slices on top of the spread batter. Keep the bases of the strawberries as close together as possible.
Strawberry Snacking Cake
serves 9 to 12
adapted from Bon Appetit
Lavender-infused whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine the cream and lavender and slowly bring them up to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the lavender to steep for about 20 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve and discard the lavender. Chill the infused cream in the refrigerator until very cold.
When ready to serve, whip the infused cream with the sugar until soft peaks. Add the vanilla and whisk again to combine.
Strawberry Snacking Cake
1 ½ teaspoons dried culinary lavender
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
about 6 ounces strawberries, trimmed and sliced ¼ to ⅛-inch thick
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/4/ teaspoon salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 X 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Using a mortar and pestle, combine the lavender and 2 tablespoons sugar. The lavender should break down slightly and release its oil. The sugar should be very fragrant. Sift the lavender sugar through a fine mesh sieve and set aside. It is okay if small bits of lavender remain.
Place the sliced strawberries and half of the lavender sugar in a bowl. Toss to combine. Allow the strawberries to macerate while the remaining ingredients are prepared, stirring every so often.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer), mix together the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, olive oil, eggs, and egg yolk until smooth. Add in the vanilla, sour cream, and lemon juice until combined.
Tip the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined and smooth.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan with an offset spatula. Place the macerated strawberries on top of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with the remaining lavender sugar and turbinado sugar, if desired.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack. Top with whipped cream before serving.
Not into lavender? Skip it all together! Macerate the strawberries with plain granulated sugar. Whip the cold cream with sugar and vanilla just before serving.
Unfrosted, the cake may be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Substitute canola or any other nueteral-flavored oil for the olive oil.