Every June, I head downtown to the greengrocer to buy local strawberries, picked that morning and brought to market by farmers. The berries usually are set out on makeshift tables in the outdoor market, and the one-quart boxes are far less expensive than supermarket berries.
I use the berries for homemade jam, strawberry pie, or this strawberry bread, which I first purchased in the market to accompany a cup of coffee. I was immediately hooked on its wonderful flavor, and a call to the Hotaling's Farm Market baker yielded this recipe.
The dominant flavorings are strawberries and orange because each bread contains nearly a pint of strawberries and the grated peel of half an orange. The bread is excellent for breakfast and equally good beneath a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Adapting the recipe for the food processor was easy, and this version is even more flavorful than the original, which called for orange extract instead of real orange zest.
To grate orange peel or zest, strips must be removed with a vegetable peeler and processed with sugar (the technique is called grinding to grate) to a fine texture. After about one minute of continuous processing with the metal blade, sugar, which acts as an abrasive, helps break up pieces of peel to the proper consistency.
Most machines accomplish this task quickly, but if the blade is dulled from use, peel strips may not mince evenly. In that event, it may be wise to consider replacing the metal blade (most blades have serrated edges that cannot be sharpened effectively).
Due to the high quantity of berries in each bread, slices tend to fall to the bottom of the baking pans. Take care to coat berries with dry ingredients, as the recipe indicates, to keep them evenly suspended in the batter.
The breads also can become sticky and difficult to unmold from the pans. I have had best results baking the breads in non-stick metal loaf pans, but I use a coating of vegetable shortening as added insurance.
2 tablespoons shortening
1 medium orange
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shelled walnut halves
1 1/3 cups oil
1 1/2 pints strawberries, rinsed, hulled and drained
3 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Coat 2 (6-cup) metal loaf pans, preferably non-stick, with shortening, then set aside. Adjust oven rack to lowest position.
Insert metal blade in processor. Strip off orange peel with vegetable peeler, allowing strips to fall into processor. Add 1/2 cup sugar and process until peel is finely minced. Add walnuts and coarsely chop with half-second pulses. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
Process eggs, adding oil to machine within 15 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and process 15 seconds. Stir egg mixture into ingredients in bowl. Pulse off blade to remove excess batter.
Change to the medium (4-millimeter) slicing disc. Slice strawberries with very gentle push. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Sprinkle 1/3 of dry ingredients over mixture in bowl. Place 1/3 of sliced strawberries on top, spreading to coat lightly with flour. Fold in berries and dry ingredients until smooth. Add half of remaining dry ingredients to bowl and half of remaining berries. Repeat folding and adding ingredients to make smooth batter.
Spoon batter into loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of loaves is withdrawn clean. Cool 30 minutes. Loosen, then remove breads carefully from pans to prevent sticking. Cool breads on cake racks to room temperature. Makes 2 loaves.