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Monday, September 27, 2010

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry dirge:

I spent a little time over the weekend researching graduate schools. I can't say I feel very good about it; you wouldn't either if you had my GRE scores. As a liberal arts major I don't believe in standardized tests but graduate schools absolutely love them, especially when they are filled with impossible isosceles triangles. I am not Susie-Q test-taker extraordinaire. The only triangles I like are made of cheese or peanut butter and jelly. Some blogs can give off an "all-mighty" vibe but I just want to say for the record that this isn't one of those. I make mistakes, I flub the quadratic formula and I panic when the blue-screen-of-death shows up (this is a new fear). But let me tell you, can I ever do fractions! And, despite my test-taking ineptitude I fully support slapping around SATs, GREs, LSATs or GMATs or whatever else you can dig up to qualify yourself with. I am an unlucky test taker and I can come to terms with that pretty easily. I'm just not sure whether or not those terms can be repeated aloud here on SPUDS. But, I can say this: that SAT essay section would have done wonders for me back in the day. Give me fifty pages from "Paradise Lost", a cafe cubano, 40 minutes and I'll give you a masterpiece. I fully blame my low score on the fact that the GRE makes you defecate every ounce of positive energy into a paper cup before the examination to ensure fairness. I mean that. Well, the defecating and the quantitative section too.

So, what did I do when I couldn't take the exam day flashbacks, the agonizing negative energy anymore? You guessed it. I baked the most cheerful strawberry loaf imaginable. I know, I did just chase summer out of the door with a broom but that was and for good reason! And even though it is autumn *fist pump* strawberries were about the only thing that could possibly lift my otherwise eternally cynical mood. Ironically, this recipe came from one of many discount cookbooks I bought at our campus book store. I haven't baked much from it since there aren't many pictures and I love pictures. But, I may have turned a corner last weekend because this loaf, tragically unphotographed, is the prettiest, loftiest and most perfectly cracked loaf of strawberry bread I have ever come into contact with. What other gems are there hiding between those covers, I wonder? Over all, I think it appropriate then that this cheeky pink glaze punctuate the last of the summer posts until next season. Adieu, strawberry. Adieu.

Notes: Frozen strawberries can be substituted according to the recipe. I used the last of our fresh berries that were quickly going to waste in the refrigerator. The glaze, however, is purely optional and a personal addition (we keep homemade strawberry jam around this joint year round). Buying berries this late in the season is chancy; farmers will box up almost anything just to get it off the plant so you will get a mix of ripe and under ripe fruit. They also may not be quite so sweet and fragrant. Be sure to use fresh berries quickly as they will start to ooze and mold (mooze?) within days. Almond extract is a delightful addition to your spice cabinet because it is delicate but very distinctive in flavor. You might try substituting some late season raspberries in for the strawberries but that is just a thought.

strawberries, fresh or frozen
almond extract
strawberry jam (optional)

Recipe from "The Best Bake Sale Cookbook ^Ever"(2006)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 cup crushed strawberries (or 10 ounce package frozen)*

*thaw the berries and then drain on a stack of paper towels

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Add the almond extract and beat until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in and combine.
4. Add a little of the flour mixture to the batter and beat. Alternate with the strawberries, beating after each addition.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
6. Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out and letting it cool completely on a plate. While the bread is still warm (but not hot) add the glaze if desired.

Strawberry glaze:
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Heat the jam in the microwave until it is runny, stir to break up any lumps.
2. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.
3. Pour over the warm (not hot) loaf, using a knife to smooth.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda excited to make this.
    ... and I'm with you on the GRE's... I'm *attempting* to study for them but basically need to kick butt on the basic and biology ones to have a chance of getting into any of the programs I want (ie. programs w/ pay).
    Hope berry happiness brightened your day!