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In Season: Strawberry Season, And How

Thu, 06/21/1979 - 11:43
Durell Godfrey

From the junction of Routes 27 and the Montauk Highway, just west of Water Mill, to the beginning of the Village of East Hampton, I have counted from 10 to 14 strawberry stands (de pending on the day of the week — there are more on weekends). They vary from established, formal stands with buildings and cash registers to the backs of station wagons parked along the side of the road with a few dozen quarts for sale. Four or five of the strawberry stands are "pick your own."

Starting at the Village, there are another couple of stands on the highway. If you travel inland, you'll find an additional four or five stands and farms. Include the grocery stores that sell local berries and the total number of strawberry sources will easily top two dozen.

I can't remember a season when there were this many, especially of the impromptu stands. And the berries this year are absolutely delicious, whether they hail from the Riverhead area, the North Fork, or local South Fork farms. The price range is $1.25 to $1.50 per quart picked, 60-cents to 80-cents pick your own.

Eaten plain or with yogurt for breakfast or lunch and involved in more elaborate desserts for dinner, they are hardly tiring, even on a daily basis. The strawberry season is too short for that. Here is a strawberry shortcake that can be prepared in a trice. Serve it and watch it disappear just as quickly.

Strawberry Dessert Cake

1 quart strawberries
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup soft sweet butter
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons kirsch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a nine or ten-inch round baking pan with a removable bottom. Wash strawberries and select nine perfect ones and set aside. Hull and chop enough of the firmer berries to make one cup (you'll need about one and a half cups berries). Mix these with three tablespoons sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and stir into butter mixture until well-blended. Add vanilla. Spread batter in prepared pan. Spread with chopped berries, leaving a one-inch border all around. Bake for 30 minutes, until cake is golden. Allow to cool.

Shortly before serving, cover cake with about two cups sliced strawberries. Whip cream until softly peaked. Add confectioner's sugar and kirsch. Whip until stiff. Spread cream over strawberries and decorate with prize whole berries. Serve at once or refrigerate briefly until ready to serve. Serves eight.

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