Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strawberry Brown Betty

One of our favorite ways of spending a summer morning is to head to one of the local strawberry farms. Everything is still quiet, and the sun has yet to heat everything up again. I admit, the whole process is easier said than done. I have one boy who can do most of the picking on his own and does a good job of it, that is until he picks about 10 berries and claims he is done. I much prefer that, however, over the chasing down of his little brother, running up and down the rows, picking unripe strawberries and eating them before anyone can catch him. We have yet to head home from picking without that little guy covered in strawberry juice. But really, having 2 kids who love fresh fruit and are willing to work to gather some? How could I complain?

This simple and delicious recipe came from 2 sources of inspiration. One was the leftover cider donuts in the fridge, the other, a quart of strawberries picked at a local farm, just on the verge of spoilage. This dessert was really made way back in August, but I chose to bring it out now because someone out there must have a bag of frozen local fruit in the freezer just waiting to be brought out and baked into something. In fact, I am hoping to try our peaches in this very soon.

Strawberry Brown Betty
(Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything: Apple Brown Betty)

4 to 6 servings

4 cups day-old donuts (or bread, cake or biscuits) cut or broken into small cubes
4 cups strawberries (or any other fruit, peeling if necessary) sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Optional (from the original apple recipe):
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Place the donuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until very lightly browned, about 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during baking. Prepare the fruit and toss with the lemon juice. Melt the butter over low heat.

When the donuts are done, turn the oven up to 375 F. Toss the donuts with the sugars and half the butter. On the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan, place one-third of the donuts. Top with half the strawberries. Repeat, then finish with the last of the donuts. Drizzle the rest of the butter over all.

Bake for at least 30 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbly and the top is browned. Serve warm with whipped cream (preferably local and fresh) or ice cream. This can be made ahead and reheated at 300 F for 15 minutes.

Note: Aside from picking the fruit, the kids did a great job breaking up the donuts, cleaning the berries and stirring ingredients together.

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