I’ve been on this Downton Abbey kick recently. I know I’m a little late to jump on the bandwagon, but my TV viewing habits are generally limited to what is available on Netflix instant. I like my TV to revolve around my schedule. I like everything else in my life to revolve around my schedule too, even though it totally… doesn’t.
Lest you think me a Philistine, I should tell you that I’m no stranger to British television. Growing up, I was nursed on a steady diet of Jeeves and Wooster, Rumpole of the Bailey, Hetty Wainthrop, The Irish RM, Keeping up Appearances, Cadfael, Wodehouse Playhouse, and every possible Masterpiece Theatre incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot.
In retrospect, this probably contributed to why I didn’t have very many friends in elementary school.
At any rate, my rabid consumption of Downton Abbey has put me in a bit of an Edwardian mood this week. Minus the casteism.
I was almost-but-not-quite tempted to call this “fancy pants cake,” because come on, how is that not the dopiest name ever?
But for reals, this is not a cake you just whip up because you’re in a cakey mood. This is the sort of cake you set out when you know you have company coming over. This is the sort of cake that you dust off your good china for (provided you have china because, let’s be honest, I absolutely don’t). This is the sort of cake I would have with tea, if I didn’t know it would bring me out in a rash.
(the tea, not the cake, though I hear strawberry allergies are common as hell)
POINT BEING this cake is about as close to fancy as anything I will probably ever bake. I don’t feel this highbrown very often, so let’s indulge me.
Andy’s aunt spontaneously came into a large sum of strawberries last week, and was all too eager to pawn them off on us. I like strawberries but am not fanatical about them, so I was a bit concerned about how I would use them all up before they spoiled.
I had heard of people pairing strawberry with balsamic vinegar, but had never actually tasted it before now. Those people know what’s going on! I was fortunate to have had a nearly-full bottle of balsamic vinegar gathering dust in our kitchen. It was a hand-me-down from a former roommate. I kept it all this time because I have a slight fixation with glass vessels.
… I’ve told you too much already.
GO GO ARTISTIC ARRANGEMENT!
The placement of the strawberries is of paramount importance, clearly.
When I was little, my parents always accused me of turning every single task into an art project. Clearly their assessment was accurate. Some might call me OCD; I prefer the term “pattern preservationist.”
On to the cake! This cake started as what I like to call a “guessipe” — please, internet, PLEASE let this portmanteau take off! — wherein I half-assedly started mixing ingredients until the consistency seemed right.
This is also one of my first times baking with eggs. I learned to bake without them, so they definitely take some getting used to. I am not a fan of the snotty texture!
And, on that note, let’s look at some more pictures of food.
Snotty eggs aside, this cake is not to be missed. We both know that balsamic strawberries wait for no man. So don your fanciest of pants, grab your gentry pals, and have the servants whip up some delectable foodstuffs before Britain’s class system goes to pieces!
for the topping:
1/2 stick (1/4 c) butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
for the cake:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) butter, softened
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 c flour
1 c greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1. First, make your topping! In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and let cool a bit before pouring into a greased bundt pan.
2. Slice your strawberries and arrange them (artistically!) in the bottom of the pan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add your extracts, then beat in the eggs.
4. Add your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) and mix until incorporated.
5. Beat in the greek yogurt and pour/scoop the batter into the bundt pan, of course being careful not to muss your artistically arranged strawberries!
6. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool completely before trying to remove it. You might also want to check out these tips for getting your cake out of a bundt pan.