Alpine Strawberries

You’ll never have enough Alpine Strawberries, also called fraises des bois, to make a pie but they are so delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a creamy panna cotta. I love them with my cereal in the morning fresh from the garden. Best grown in containers, in my opinion, they are small plants that will do well in partial shade or full sun. Mostly without runners I grow from transplants instead of seeds. I just never had any luck starting the tiny seeds. Alpine strawberries are related to wood (wild) strawberries and can be red or white with delicate white flowers. I think the red taste like perfume and the white are reminiscent of pineapple.

They like well-drained soil, rich in organic matter so that they drain well.  I amend my soil every fall and feed regularly with an organic fertilizer. Be careful not to cover the crown of the plant and keep the leaves off the soil. You can plant these much closer together than a bigger strawberry as the plants are small and grow slowly. Here in So. California my alpine strawberries start fruiting in Jan and finish up late fall. They do stop producing in summer if it gets too hot and sometimes I’ll move the pots to partial shade where they get morning sun. Other than protecting the delicate fruit from the birds, alpine strawberries are easy to grow and are pretty little plants in pots near my front door.

French Yogurt Cake

I love this bright lemony cake so much I adapted it slightly from Dorie Greenspan by adding these super sweet little strawberries, Alpine strawberries.

  • 1 1/2   cup all-purpose flour
  • 2         teaspoons baking powder
  •            Pinch of salt
  • 1         cup sugar
  • 1         lemon, grated and zest
  • 1/2      cup plain yogurt
  • 3         eggs
  • 1/4      teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2      cup citrus olive oil
  • 1         cup Alpine strawberries, whole or halved

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-41/2-inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and, with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic.

Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisking vigorously until the mixture is very well blended.

Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil and then the strawberries. You'll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold, and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Glaze (optional)

½ cup lemon marmalade mixed with 1 teaspoon water

To Make the Glaze:

Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or in a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of the water and heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.

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