Asparagus and strawberries are mainly what we go to the weekly open-air market in Saint-Aignan for these days. Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was fun to go to the market on Saturday morning and just wander, looking for the best produce and other local products, including goat cheeses. It's less fun when you are nervous about being in crowds and when you have to wear a mask.
Above is a photo of the strawberries Walt got at the market last Saturday. The variety is called "charlotte" — the man who (with his son) grows them also sells them at the market. We've been buying strawberries and asparagus from him for 15 years now. Along with the garriguette variety, charlottes are some of the best strawberries you can buy in France. Strawberry and asparagus plants thrive around here, in the sandy soil of the Sologne region and the Loire and Cher river valleys.
Walt frequently makes "shortcake" to have with the strawberries. It's actually an American biscuit recipe that he makes with butter, flour, yogurt, and baking soda. The original recipe, which we owe to our friend Tom in Illinois, calls for butter + vegetable shortening, but we can't get shortening here. It also calls for buttermilk, for which we substitute plain yogurt. So I guess it's Walt's recipe now. Still, many thanks to Tom.
What I did on Monday with the leftover strawberries from Sunday's shortcake dessert was make a strawberry cake. It was a spur of the moment, basically improvised thing. There were some strawberries in a bowl that had been lightly sweetened with sugar and had released a small quantity of liquid. I strained them and added the juice to a yogurt cake recipe. I dusted the strawberries with flour, which helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan, and added them to the cake batter. Yogurt cake is a French classic, and it's a very easy recipe to make. Yogurt, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, flour, and baking powder go into the batter. I added a little bit of kirschwasser (cherry brandy) for extra flavor.