The quickest route to happiness is a strawberry lined path.
Strawberries sweetly declare the start of summer, and they always make me feel at home. When I was very small, we had a patch of berries along our sidewalk, and I always shared the best ones with our aging dog. With few teeth left, he could only eat the softest berries, and he’d lick the sticky juice from my fingers. When my dad tried to harvest berries, he always lamented that they never got very big. Spike kept my secret, and we continued our strawberry feasts through the long summer days.
My dad decided homegrown strawberries were too much work, but I remembered their effortless sweetness for years. When I rented my first place in college, I immediately planted my own berries. They flourished and soon climbed the wooded shortcut I took to campus. My lazy cat would watch from the window as I rummaged in the leaves for berries on the way to class. Years later, I visited my youngest sister at school, and her roommate mentioned she had taken the “strawberry path” home that day. She wiggled her pink-stained fingers at my sister and grinned.
“Hey…you used to live over there, right?” my sister asked me, “Was the strawberry path there then?”
“Not at first…” I smiled as I thought about nearly a decade of students eating the berries I had planted as they traipsed up to class. Discovering a strawberry lined path is pretty joyful, but nothing compares to the bliss of planting that joy for someone else to find.
Strawberries have gone into the ground wherever I’ve lived since then, and this year my berry-strewn path stretches all along my yard. We are constantly picking berries. I eat them straight from the ground, throwing the tops back in to reseed. I watched as my daughter and husband did the same thing the other day, tossing the leftover bits into a bare patch so the little trail of happiness will keep growing for years.
Sun-warmed berries straight from the ground are my favorite, but sometimes it’s nice to serve up a special strawberry dish. A simple vegan pound cake showcases the berries and goes together in moments. With long days in the garden, I don’t have a lot of time for laborious recipes, so this 4 ingredient, 1 pan cake is perfect.
I use staple ingredients most folks have on hand, so this cake comes together almost as an afterthought. Even the exotic sounding aquafaba is just the water from a can of beans. Garbanzo bean water works best, but most white beans will do, and I occasionally use kidney bean water. Instead of draining canned beans into the sink, I just pour the soaking water into a jar to use in place of eggs. Soaking water from dried beans works great, too.
I’ll bake this cake on a whim when I notice a new batch of blushing berries in the garden. I can mix it up, pop it in the oven, and then spend a sunny hour in the garden picking berries. Vegan pound cake is cheap, easy, and super tasty!
I adapted Martha Stewart’s buttery recipe and came up with a dense, moist cake that keeps really well. Even my biggest vegan skeptics devoured this cake, and it disappeared really fast. My mom was so surprised when I told her there was bean water in the cake because “it doesn’t taste anything like beans.” I pointed out that regular pound cake doesn’t taste like eggs, and she didn’t have time to argue because she was too busy eating more. Everyone asks for seconds of this pound cake. Luckily, it’s easy enough to whip up another loaf, so these cakes have been coming almost as fast as the strawberries lately.
Here’s how I make vegan pound cake:
- 1 c. coconut oil (Earth Balance or other vegan margarine would work, too)
- 2 c. flour
- if a fluffier texture is desired, sift a couple of teaspoons of baking powder into the flour
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 c. aquafaba (garbanzo bean water)
- a bit of salt
- a generous splash of vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour a loaf pan.
- Beat the fat and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Gradually add the aquafaba, and then add the salt and vanilla.
- Slowly add the flour, mixing on low speed until just combined. (Don’t over mix!)
- Bake for about an hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool and serve! (Hopefully with happily picked strawberries!)
Sometimes, Spike and I would get too busy to pick all the ripest berries, and then my dad would proudly serve them up with pound cake and ice cream for dessert. So this recipe is bursting with summery nostalgia for me. Even if your strawberries always come from a plastic box, this recipe is a quick and easy way to slow down and savor early summer. With ingredients you have on hand and a bit of prep time, you’ll have your own pink-tinted happiness, too.