I came across this cake from the New York Times cooking website; a Joe Trivelli recipe adapted by Charlotte Druckman. He is the head chef at The River Café in London. What caught my attention initially was the use of Marsala in the cake, and also browned butter!
In his book The Modern Italian Cook, published in 2018,Joe Trevelli has an apple cake using Vin Santo. Ms. Druckman changed the apples to strawberries, and used Marsala instead. The browned butter remains a recipe ingredient.
This cake was good. Really good. In spite of the fact that I don’t really like cooked strawberries. But honestly, it seemed a waste of browned butter. The texture is great – moist and pillowy – and I’d eat this just for the cake. Which I did. But, I probably won’t make it again.
9 tablespoons/125 grams unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 1/4 pounds/565 grams fresh strawberries
3/4 cup/150 grams superfine sugar, plus more as needed
4 extra-large eggs, whites and yolks separated
3/4 cup/180 milliliters sweet Marsala
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Heaping 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
Melt the 9 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling it occasionally. As it melts, the butter will sizzle and foam. Continue cooking until the foam dissolves and the solids turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. (If the butter is spattering too much, reduce the heat a bit, and watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.) Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter, line it with parchment, then grease the parchment.
Hull the strawberries and slice them lengthwise, ¼-inch thick. Toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons superfine sugar and set aside while you prepare the batter. (If strawberries aren’t in season and yours are underripe or less sweet than they should be, you may want to add 1 to 2 additional teaspoons superfine sugar.)
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 5 tablespoons superfine sugar together until pale. Whisk in the browned butter (scraping to include the solids, if you like), then whisk in the Marsala until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift over the batter and gently whisk to combine, smoothing out the lumps as best as you can.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip on medium speed, or an electric beater, or simply a whisk and a bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 5 tablespoons superfine sugar while beating to form a shiny meringue with stiff peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Gently fold 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the batter, followed by the rest, then fold in the strawberries, using a slotted spoon to add the berries to the batter, leaving any strawberry juices behind.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is golden and the cake is springy to the touch, 30 to 33 minutes.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve right away with some freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.