I discovered Jerrelle Guy's recipe for strawberry spoon cake, published in NYT Cooking, several months back – just in time to bring it along to a friend's backyard pizza party when lockdown restrictions lifted. It's not an exaggeration to say that it has single-handedly changed the course of my summer.
Everything about this cake encapsulates the dog days of August: it's consummately lazy, comes together in 20 minutes and requires ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen. This is a cake you could plausibly whip up on a whim if it's late in the evening and you decide you fancy something sweet. You need no cake-cutter to serve it: true to name, a spoon is best. If you find that some of the batter is still a little custardy in the middle, well, all the better.
This cake is also a blank slate: strawberries aside, you can use any fruit you'd like – fresh, frozen, even canned. The recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I like my dessert with a subtly savoury component, so I used salted, cultured butter – it really offsets the syrup-enrobed fruit. I think the recipe is even better with additions of vanilla paste and cardamom, though you might disagree.
You can riff all you like and it will almost certainly go well. In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to pair this cake with Schneider Aventinus: one of the first beers I ever loved. My dad used to give me sips when I was a teenager and, back then, this weizen doppelbock – chestnut-brown, unapologetically boozy, plush with notes of banana bread, clove and toffee – only came in bottles. Seeing it in cans still feels odd, but I'm no Philistine: if it means I can more easily carry Aventinus to the park, then so be it.
Serving beer with desserts can often be tricky, but Schneider Aventinus stands up to the challenge. In our cookbook, The Beer Lover's Table, I paired Aventinus with sweet-potato cardamom blondies; it does similarly well here with this spiced, squidgy cake. Take advantage of the pairing while you can: summer’s only over once you've eaten your weight in stone fruit.
Stone Fruit Spoon Cake
Adapted from New York Times Cooking
115g salted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
2 plums, peaches, or nectarines (approx. 200g)
150g packed light brown sugar
120ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
130g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit). Grease an 8-inch square or round Pyrex baking dish. Set aside.
- Melt the butter over the stove or in the microwave. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Halve and pit the plums, peaches and/or nectarines. Slice thinly. Place in a medium bowl and cover with half of the sugar (75g). Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly coated and the sugar begins to melt. Set aside to macerate for 10–15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, add the melted butter, whole milk, the remaining sugar and the vanilla. Whisk until uniform.
- Next, add the cardamom, salt, flour and baking powder. Whisk until just smooth and no lumps remain.
- Transfer the batter to your greased baking dish, using a spatula to scoop out every last drop. Evenly spoon the plum slices over the top of the batter and pour over any remaining sugary juices. Bake for roughly 25–30 minutes, rotating if your oven has hot spots, or until the cake is risen, deep-golden on top, and looks set.
- Leave to cool for 5–10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our award-winning first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and for more beers like this one, sign up for our All Killer No Filler subscription box here.