Last summer, I bought a half flat (six baskets!) of strawberries from Hall’s Organic Farms at the Carmel Farmer’s Market every single Thursday. They are some of the sweetest, best strawberries I’ve ever tasted. I always tell people that they taste like strawberry Jolly Ranchers, which is actually a bizarre compliment given that Jolly Ranchers are a very fake tasting thing? But it’s a very, very big compliment.
A half flat of strawberries is a lot of strawberries for two adults and one very tiny person, so I started making Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Cake to use up a whole lot of them at once whenever we had friends over for dinner. It is so, so delicious, and of course packed with all the things that make a cake delicious – butter, white flour, sugar…
All the things that I need to cut back on a wee bit after consuming cookie dough on a daily basis for the entire Shelter In Place period so far. But when Hall’s started delivering strawberries straight to their customers’ homes, I knew I had to make it again.
So I started developing a healthier, more “bread-like” strawberry cake. Something that would be more acceptable to snack on during the day, like a banana bread, versus a butter-white sugar-white flour laden cake.
After testing with a few different types of flour, I decided to stick with all whole wheat flour for simplicity’s sake, though I enjoyed the version where I swapped in 1/4 cup of almond flour too.
Almond extract is an unusual ingredient in a strawberry bread or cake, but adds a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs so well with the strawberries.
Coconut sugar is my go to un-refined sugar for baking, but white sugar will work just as well here. We use white sugar to sprinkle over the berries because it just melds with them and helps make them jammy and delicious on top of the bread, better than coconut did.
Finally, I decided to swap in extra-virgin olive oil for the butter in a traditional snacking bread/cake because I love olive oil cakes, and a shipment of Holman Ranch EVOO showed up the day I had planned to bake this. It was meant to be, and it is fabulous. If you aren’t an olive oil cake person already, please give it a shot.
I cooked this bread in a 9×13” cake pan instead of in a bread loaf pan, like a banana bread, because I wanted more surface area for the strawberries to cover. I didn’t want to mix strawberries into the batter itself, because when they cook they just turn to mush and would make the bread soggy, but I wanted to pack in as many as I could. Distributing them over the top of the bread was the answer.
It is the essence of summer, in a healthier package than your average strawberry cake. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Strawberry Snack Bread
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups (225 g) coconut sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) whole milk
- 2 1/4 cups (320 g) whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, destemmed, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- Olive Oil—> Equal parts vegetable, avocado, grapeseed, or other neutral-flavored oil. Melted, cooled butter will also work.
- Coconut Sugar—> 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar. Or, 1 1/2 cups white sugar. I think all brown sugar would be too much, but I haven’t tried it!Vanilla
- Extract—> Use 2 teaspoons total of almond extract. Or, 2 teaspoons good bourbon.
- Almond Extract—> Use 3 teaspoons total of vanilla extract.
- Don’t have EITHER extract?—> Add the zest of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon orange zest or lime zest. We need some additional flavor here, people!Whole
- Milk—> Any non-dairy milk should also work in this instance, though I didn’t test it. I think sour cream or yogurt would be great!
- Whole Wheat Flour—> All Purpose flour would be great. Swap in small amounts of almond or buckwheat flour in equal parts (so, if you want to add 1/4 cup almond flour just remove 1/4 cup of whole wheat). I don’t recommend any coconut flour here, it will dry the bread out.
- Baking Powder—> If you don’t have baking powder, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes to create buttermilk. Then add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- .Strawberries—> Peaches or plums would be LOVELY here. No fresh fruit? Swirl 1/2 cup of fruity jam into the top of the cake!
- White Sugar—> Use whatever sugar you have.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13” cake pan with olive oil.
- Stir oil, sugar, and salt together until smooth. Stir in eggs one at a time until fully combined, then the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Stir in the whole milk, it’ll take a minute to fully combine but stick with it, it will come together!
- Dump the whole wheat and almond flour on top of the oil mixture, but don’t mix it yet! Add the baking powder on top of the flour and stir it into the flour so that it gets evenly distributed and doesn’t clump up in one place! Now stir everything together until just combined.
- Pour batter into the cake pan. Add strawberries over top in an even layer. Sprinkle the strawberries with white sugar (it just works better than coconut sugar here to help the berries get all jammy).
- Bake for 45 mins to an hour, until the edges are totally set. The center will still look a bit wet and gooey bc of the berries, that’s ok! It will set up as it cools.
- Allow to cool completely, then slice and enjoy!
- Store uncovered in the refrigerator. Per Deb, covering it makes the top get sticky!