The first year I lived in Florida, I was shocked at seeing fresh strawberries in February. Now, a few years later, I am totally spoiled and look forward to enjoying them while the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. There is a world famous Florida Strawberry festival held at the end of February/beginning of March. I really appreciate the amazing growing season in our state. Eating Fresh From Florida produce is an added bonus to being close to the beach and having mild winters.
My whole family adores strawberries. If I want to use them for a recipe, I practically have to hire an armed guard to protect them from being eaten. I usually end up going to the farmers market and buying a couple of flats to make freezer jam and to put some away for baking throughout the rest of the year. For these first fruits of the year, though, I made a Fresh Strawberry Poke Cake. It was adapted from a pineapple cake that my mother-in-law used to make and the gelatin poke cakes that my own grandmother made when I was little.
I skipped the gelatin and opted to pour sweetened pureed strawberries over the entire cake. Then, I made a mixture of cream cheese, pudding, strawberries and whipped cream for the topping. Oh my! It was like strawberry shortcake on steroids! The cake was gone in a flash. Lucky for me, the strawberry season has just started, so I can make it again and again.
Be sure to follow @FreshFromFlorida on Twitter and Facebook for more recipe ideas.
Fresh Strawberry Poke Cake
1 lb fresh whole strawberries
2 cups pureed strawberries, sweetened with 2-3 Tbsp sugar
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 8oz brick cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 3.4 oz box instant vanilla pudding
1 8 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Make yellow cake, following directions on package, using the eggs, oil and water.
When the cake is done, let it cool to room temperature.
Poke holes all over the top of the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.
Pour sweetened pureed strawberries all over the cake, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to make sure the berries get into all of the little holes.
In a blender, combine the cream cheese, milk, pudding mix and all but 8 of the whole strawberries.
Blend until smooth.
Fold cream cheese mixture into the whipped topping.
Spread all over the cake.
Slice the remaining strawberries in half and place them cut side down all over the top of the cake.
Refrigerate at least one hour before serving to let the topping set and the strawberries soak into the cake.
What is your favorite way to eat strawberries? Do you freeze them, too? Do you make jam?