In a world where good news seems scarce let me simply share a sweet recipe guaranteed to brighten your day and put a belly-satisfying smile on your face. This recipe for Strawberry Kropsua is kind of a cross between a pancake, a crepe and a souffle, but reminds me most of a popover.
In the photos above you will notice how the edges of the batter rise high above the pan leaving a center pocket making it perfect for all kinds of luscious fruit filling. Some might fill it with fresh apples and squeeze of lemon juice calling it a Dutch Baby pancake, but in my case I’m filling it with the fruit of the season…fresh strawberries tossed with a sprinkle of sugar and touch of vanilla.
Do I have you salivating now? Before I share the recipe we need to talk about two things. First, the cast iron pan. Please only use cast iron for the best results. The pan is pre-heated in the oven before pouring in the batter. I use 4-inch pans and here is a really important tip. Measure your pans across the bottom and not the top. That is the standard for measuring as with many pans the top is usually wider than the bottom. You are welcome.
Next thing you need to know is that I am sharing this recipe in metric measurements to insure accuracy. Buy a kitchen scale if you don’t already have one. Gluten development is the enemy of this recipe, so it’s important to add the exact measurement of flour and gently whisk it in. We all measure differently, but we all weigh ingredients the same. Capice? (ca-peesh). Too much flour will yield a dense kropsua and that’s just sad.
Place the flour in a batter bowl or mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla until blended. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until mixture is smooth. Let this mixture rest while oven heats up; this allows the gluten to relax. Place two 4-inch skillets in the oven. Heat the oven to 425F. When the oven comes to temperature, remove skillets from oven and divide butter among them. Place back in the oven for a minute to let bubbling of butter subside. Pour rested batter evenly into hot skillets. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and fill with strawberries.
For the strawberries:
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
Sweetener of choice (I like a tablespoon of sugar or maple syrup)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
A squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice added in is nice and sunny
Toss it all together just prior to starting the kropsua
There is a language, little known, Lovers claim it as their own. Its symbols smile upon the land, Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand; And in their silent beauty speak, Of life and joy, to those who seek For Love Divine and sunny hours In the language of the flowers. –The Language of Flowers, London, 1875
Made popular in Victorian times many flowers have been given meaning and often used to send unspoken messages. For instance, and the obvious, red roses symbolizing love and Forget-me-nots, well, don’t forget me. Did you know Kate Middleton carried sweet William in her bridal bouquet as a symbol of gallantry along with myrtle (love in marriage), lily-of-the-valley (trustworthiness, purity) and ivy (continuity)? It was a meaningful bouquet filled with hopes of a long and happy marriage with her Prince. So far so good there.
As we head into April and my bittersweet (truth and honesty) gardening season I’d like to focus on all the goodness of William’s birthday (April 22) rather than the day (April 16) the Navy Chaplain knocked on the door delivering tragic news. It’s a much needed change. The garden, specifically getting my hands into the dirt, has been a great source of strength, joy and now fun with my grandchildren. Garden therapy is a thing. Plant some seeds.
If there ever is a plant that reminds me of William it is thyme. Thyme is the symbol of courage and strength. I saw William at his strongest following a season-ending knee injury his senior year in high school. Lacrosse was his thing. Team co-captain with his best friend, Whit, running the game made him feel successful. Imagine the devastating loss, in the first game of the season, when an opposing player clipped him from behind blowing out his knee. In the blink of an eye, it was all over. Not only that, the surgical repair and 9 months of rehab that followed could effectively dismiss him from the Navy. While others would have crumbled, his hard-work at physical therapy and his ability to lead his team while on crutches was nothing more than courageous and inspiring. I know because so many of his teammates told me.
Next week I will share why he is like dill and nasturtiums. I know he’d be so mad if he knew I was comparing him to flowers, but trying to have a good laugh here rather than a good cry. Let’s get to this recipe before I change my mind…
Grow herbs! Herbs are an essential part of the landscape both outside and inside the kitchen. Cost effective, easy to care for, beautiful and delicious if you are not growing herbs I can’t tell you enough how much I want you to. And if you have yet to pair herbs like thyme or basil with strawberries then you are in for a real treat with this recipe.
Madeleines are like little bite-size pound cakes. I just love them with a cup of tea for a mid-afternoon snack. Super easy to make these fresh strawberry infused lovelies also call for freeze-dried strawberries as they punch up the strawberry flavor and color. Crushing freeze-dried fruit into any recipe eliminates the need for artificial colors and flavors. You can find it at Trader Joe’s or near the fresh produce section of your grocery store.
2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberries plus additional for garnish
½ chopped fresh strawberries
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Powdered sugar, optional
Heat oven to 375F. Place oven rack in middle. Spray madeleine pan with baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In small food processor or spice grinder, combine 2 teaspoons sugar, thyme and freeze-dried strawberries; process to a fine powder with bits of thyme. Add strawberries and process to a puree; measure and set aside ¼ cup of puree. In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs with remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and pale in color. Add reserved strawberry puree and flour mixture blending just until dry ingredients are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in melted butter until well blended. Spoon or pipe batter into prepared pan just below each rim. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until madeleines spring back with a touch of your finger. Turn out to cool on a rack. Dust with crushed freeze-dried strawberries or powdered sugar.
Warm, but overcast, yesterday was the perfect day for strawberry picking with my family. Highland Farms in West Chester, PA is the place to go for all sorts of fruit picking throughout the year. The scent of strawberries was in the air as we approached the field.
photo by Caitlin
Do your littles watch the show Daniel Tiger? Annabelle loves the animated Mr. Rodgers version and on one episode Daniel and his friends go “fruit-picking”. My Annabelle could not wait to try it. She ate as much as she picked and was covered in warm strawberry juice by the time we were done. Want to have some fun? Go pick some berries!
photo by Caitlin
Fresh picked berries are at their peak of sweetness compared to the more tart berries found in the grocery store, so less sugar is needed for the perfect pie. Make sure your filling is really bubbling (see video below) before you pull it from the oven to insure all the juices gel and don’t leave a soupy mess when the pie is cut. If the crust edge is over-browning then cover it with a pie shield or foil.
Find a pie dough recipe here. It’s my favorite go to recipe and enough for a double crust, so wrap and freeze half of it for another time or just bake two pies.
Heat oven to 400F. Line 9-inch pie plate with dough. Trim and flute edge. (Roll out dough scraps and cut shapes for decoration. Sprinkle shapes with sugar, if desired.)
Sprinkle cookie crumbs over bottom of pie shell and chill while preparing topping and filling. For topping: combine all ingredients in a bowl working the butter into the dry ingredients until clumps form. Chill it. For Filling: Place berries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Drizzle with heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla; gently toss to coat. Add sugar and flour; toss again. Spoon into pie shell. Sprinkle crisp mixture over the top. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until pie is bubbling and crust and topping are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature or serve just slightly warm.