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3 Strawberry-Scented Cakes

Cheesecake with strawberry glaze is just one of the great way to use local summer strawberries. (You’ll also find recipes for a quick cocoa spice cake with fresh strawberry frosting and an orange chiffon cake with strawberry sauce below.)

Nell’s Company Cheesecake With Strawberry Glaze

Our daughter, the acknowledged cheesecake maker in the family, makes this for all festive occasions. This recipe, from a small-town local cookbook, is, as you might expect, tried-and-true. It works. It is a simple, straightforward cheesecake, no bells and whistles, with a creamy texture and taste — not heavy — a perfect foil for the strawberry glaze. If you prefer, serve with the Strawberry Sauce. It’s great either way. If you like, substitute your favorite crust rather than the classic graham cracker one here.

For the crust
1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

For the filling 2 packages (8 ounces each) plus 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

2) Stir together graham cracker crumbs and the 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix in butter thoroughly. Press mixture evenly in the bottom and a little up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300˚F.

3) Beat cream cheese in large mixer bowl. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add lemon peel and vanilla.

4) Beat in eggs, one at a time.

5) Combine cheesecake filling ingredients. Pour over crumb mixture and bake one hour. (Don’t open the oven door during this time.) The usual test of piercing the center with a sharp knife to see if it comes out clean won’t work. By that time, the cheesecake will be overbaked.

Nell’s advice: The cake is done when it is puffed up some. Turn off the heat after an hour and leave the cake in the oven with the door closed for about 20–30 minutes. This is when the center become firm. Don’t worry if the cake falls some when it is removed from the oven. That’s okay. Cool to room temperature, then spread with glaze. Chill at least 3 hours. Loosen edge of cheesecake with knife before carefully removing the springform circle.

Quick Cocoa-Spice Cake With Strawberry Frosting

This is my default chocolate cake, very easy, tender and the spices give it distinction.

6 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
¾ cups softened butter
1 cup cold water

1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease a tube cake pan, lightly sprinkle the bottom with flour.

2) Beat butter and sugar together until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time.

3) Add mixed and sifted dry ingredients, cold water, and beat well until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared tube cake pan and bake about 40 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Cool. Remove from cake pan by gently turning the cake upside down onto a plate.

Fresh Strawberry Frosting

Surprisingly few strawberries are needed to achieve a glorious color and flavor in this simple frosting. Use ripe, juicy strawberries.

¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup crushed ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups sifted icing sugar
Halved perfect strawberries

1) In a large bowl, blend together salt and butter.

2) In a separate bowl, combine crushed strawberries and vanilla.

3) Add sifted icing sugar and crushed berries alternately to butter. Stir after each addition.

Note: add only enough of the berry mixture to achieve frosting consistency. Cut cake in half with a serrated knife. Spread frosting on top of the bottom half and on top of the cake. If you want to cover the sides as well, multiply the recipe 1½ times. Garnish with halved perfect strawberries and let cake stand an hour before bringing it to table.

Orange Chiffon Cake With Strawberry Sauce

When my husband was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, we occasionally went skating on Lake Mendota. One afternoon we stopped in at a fellow student’s house on the lake and he served us his orange chiffon cake. I never forgot that and adopted it as my birthday cake. What better cake to serve on the birthday of God’s creation. Have all ingredients at room temperature. This is a pareve dessert to serve with meat or dairy meals.

5 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup hot water

1) Preheat oven to 375˚ F.

2) Beat egg yolks until light (foamy). Add sifted sugar, beat until light. Add water, juice, rind, and flour sifted 3 times with the baking powder.

3) Carefully fold in 3 egg whites, beaten to hold up in peaks but not dry.

4) Bake in a greased tube pan about 1 hour or until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When I bake this on our gas stove the time is considerably less, about 30 minutes.

5) Let thoroughly cool, then turn upside down and cake should slip out. If not, carefully insert a flat knife around the edges and around the tube to loosen.

Strawberry Sauce

I use a hand food processor to make this. It’s handier than an electric food processor and you can more easily control how much or little you want to chop the strawberries. I like a chunky sauce rather than a purée. If you’ve never considered a hand food processor, my Starfrit, purchased years ago in Canada is available from Amazon.

1) Hull and quickly rinse 1 quart of really ripe strawberries. Drain.

2) Roughly cut them in thirds or in half depending on their size and put them through a food processor so they are chopped to your satisfaction.

3) Stir in ½ cup sugar and let the mixture sit, covered, at room temperature for an hour to draw out the juices. Then chill until ready to use.

Jo Ann Gardner lives in the Adirondacks where she and her husband maintain a small farm with extensive gardens. Her latest book is “Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants.” She can be reached via her website www.joanngardnerbooks.com

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