That title just doesn’t even begin to do this recipe justice but if I were to list all the things it has going for it, you would be missing precious seconds that you weren’t preparing and eating this dessert.
You start with sweet strawberries that are ruby red through and through. Then you have hefty squares of brown sugar pound cake bright from lemon zest and a perfect balance between dense and moist (I hate that word but there are times when one just has to say it. Talking about cake is one of those times). Those items get stabbed with a rosemary skewer which not only looks rustic and pretty darn cool but permeates the strawberry and cake with a soft woodsy scent.
On top of that a generous slathering of brown butter before it hits a hot grill. The berry and cake lined skewers stay there until the slates of the grill leave their mark – a trademark of Summer too often reserved for burgers and steak. In that brief, albeit very hot moment, the juice of the berries warm and concentrate so that when you bite through the exterior you are destined to have a red stained chin and a goofy grin of delight. The pound cake is amazing as is but there is very little that isn’t improve with a brown buttery crust. All of that is dipped and cooled with a lightly sweet Mascarpone or simple whipped cream.
Your fourth of July guests will have never had strawberry shortcake like this.
continue for the recipe …
Brown Sugar Pound Cake
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoons kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon if you are using table salt)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup yogurt
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pre-heat your oven to 350*. Butter and flour two loaf pans.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the butter and sugars. Cream until very light, about 3-5 minutes on medium. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is evenly mixed. With the machine on medium low add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla, either the bean or extract. Scrape down the bowl again and mix until everything is well combined.
While the machine is on low add ⅓ of the flour mixture then alternate with the yogurt and milk. Continue to mix until all the wet and dry ingredients have been added. Stop the machine while there still remains some flour streaks and finish mixing by hand so that you don’t overmix and end up with a tough cake.
Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. About an hour. If the cakes start to get too dark on top turn down the oven to 300* and finish the baking.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes then remove from the loaf pan and cool completely on the rack.
When the cake has completely cooled use a serrated knife to cut it 1 inch cubes, set aside. (The other loaf can get wrap in plastic wrap then aluminum and frozen for one month, or can serve as a snack while you are skewering). Place one stick of butter in a medium sauce pan and set on medium heat. Let the butter melt than bubble. The milk solids will foam and bubbles will creep up the sides of the pan letting you know that you are almost done. As the milk solids resolve and settle down twirl the pot to see if you see golden bits on the bottom. If you do, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. If not, continue to cook until you do see those golden bits on the bottom. Browned butter, a beauty that permeates a soft nuttiness into anything it touches. I adore the stuff – can you tell?
If you have access to an abundance of rosemary consider yourself lucky then whack off a few branches. Cut the branches into 6 inch skewers and leave about two inches of leaves on at the top, remove the rest. Using a very sharp paring knife create a point at the end as you would a marshmallow roasting stick. Slide onto the skewer a strawberry with its green frilly hat removed then a piece of cake and another berry. Continue the process until you have plenty, and then make a few more.
Heat up your grill (I used an indoor grill for this as it was a bit rainy – ha, Seattle, go figure). Brush skewers with brown butter then carefully place on your extremely hot grill, listen for that satisfying sizzle. Give that about one minute then carefully flip over and grill the other side. Return to the plate when finished.
Serve with Mascarpone that has a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar stirred into in or a very lightly sweetened whipped cream.
You don’t have to use rosemary, any skewer will work marvelously. Also, even with out the kiss of the grill these make a beautiful dessert and an alternative to classic strawberry short cake, the grilling just puts it over the top.
Happy 4th to you all!