Every rose has its thorn. Every small town has its festival.
The small town I grew up in has the Strawberry Festival. It has a long history of parades, bed races, arts & crafts, and decadent strawberry creations. You can find anything from strawberry shortcake to strawberry salsa, but the real delicacy of the strawberry festival is the famous strawberry doughnuts. They are truly heaven on earth in a fried dough. It's possible. Just trust me--I'm a strawberry doughnut expert.
We traveled to Troy to watch a family member march in the parade. The rain held off and we found an excellent spot to watch the passersby.
The parade was filled with the small town usuals--pageant winners waving while perched on top of convertibles, candy being tossed into the crowd by clowns (as my father put it, "Clowns are scary," while he told the story of my sister traumatized by clowns at a circus when she was a child), and modest floats that local people put hours upon hours of time into preparing.
The day was lovely, despite the heavy humidity, and it was a taste of my childhood that I was happy to share with my new husband. There is definitely something to be said about the spirit of small towns.
The highlight of the afternoon was my discovery of one of the booths selling fresh picked local strawberries from Fulton Farm. Just outside of Troy, Fulton Farm has always been the local go-to spot for picking strawberries in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. A few times I've walked into a grocery store in Cincinnati and purchased corn on the cob that was grown by Fulton Farm. Knowing where my strawberries, corn, pumpkins, and all other foods are grown is something that has become very important to me lately. At the supermarket, I find myself checking the sticker on my produce to see how far it had to travel before it reached my basket.
As soon as we returned home from the festival, I began researching recipes for something special to make with my very special bucket of strawberries. There have been so many special strawberry recipes on the web lately like Strawberry Ricotta Graham Tartlets, Strawberry Galette with Homemade Vanilla Whipped Cream, and Salmon with Strawberry and Tomato Salsa. Any of these recipes would have done my strawberries justice, but after I happened upon a recipe for strawberry bread there was no other option that seemed as appealing.
The instructions were simple, so I added a few recommendations to it, but overall, it was perfection. I had the exactly the amount of strawberries needed for the recipe (it was a sign) and my strawberries were perfectly ripe.
Even the batter was incredibly tasty. Oh, I know--raw eggs--but I eat my eggs over easy, what's really the difference? It was very thick batter and I think the thickness kept the strawberries from sinking to the bottom of the bread.
Then I popped it into the oven, watched some television with my husband, and tried to ignore the incredible smells coming from the kitchen. I did check it once with a toothpick at 50 minutes, because I never trust an oven, but it definitely needed the additional time. A total cooking time of 60 minutes was absolutely perfect for me. I let it sit for 5 minutes in the loaf pan, then turned it out onto a wire rack to cool.
I probably could have let it cool longer in the loaf pan because it did start to pull in half a bit, so I'd suggest to you to leave it in the loaf pan for 10-15 minutes. I resisted cutting into the bread for another 5 minutes or so, but finally I couldn't stand it.
I cut a slice for me and one for Tim. The strawberries were steamy and practically melted into the bread. It had the texture of banana bread, but it was oh so much more than just a quick bread.
It was a strawberry sensation. Sour and sweet, dense but fluffy, breakfast and dessert. In this photo it appears that the strawberries sank to one side, but when I cut into the bread the next day at the other end, the strawberries were more evenly distributed. Also, the original recipe called for nuts, but I didn't have any on hand, so I left them out. I can imagine that the addition of nuts would only enhance the texture of the bread. Go with your gut here--nuts or no nuts, you will love this bread.
Strawberry Sour Cream Bread
adapted from Closet Cooking who got the recipe from Joy of Baking
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 cups fresh strawberries
Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each in until the egg is incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. When that is just mixed in, add 1/2 of the sour cream. Repeat with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the sour cream, and the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix. Fold in the strawberries and optional nuts.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9x5 loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 60 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center will come out clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and 5-10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.