Vancouver is one of the best cities I have ever visited, and I am so thankful that I get to live here. What I love about this city is that it seamlessly incorporates a metropolitan, International city with beautiful urban parks, a glistening coastline, and majestic mountains - just 15 minutes away. We live in a quieter, more quant neighbourhood that I adore and somehow I still get a sense of home-iness amongst the high-rises and tourists. And while real estate is steep and we may never have a yard (at least not while living in the city), this city offers so much just outside of my doorstep that I don't know if I will ever give it up.
I've always had this dream of being walking-distance to a Farmer's Market and taking my children there on the weekends to get them excited about fresh, local food. Just a couple week ago, that dream was fulfilled. Living in the city not only plants me right in the middle of some of my favourite restaurants, but also a few blocks away from the bounty of our local farmers. And while Baby Huff doesn't even have teeth yet, I embraced the opportunity to take him to the season opening of the West End Farmer's Market and soaked in every second. He even bought be a beautiful bouquet of peonies =)
The second thing that I was most excited about was that the opening of the market was also the start of berry season. Hallelujah!! It is finally here!!! Until this time of year, I scope out the weekly berries at the grocery store, usually either too stingy to pay their hefty price tag or less than enthused about their quality. But not these summer months! I spotted basket after basket of perfect strawberries. You know, the cute little ones - still with their stems and in funky different shapes. Like juicy rubies - just awaiting their fate. I definitely see many strawberry tarts and treats in my near future.
The frist thing I made with my first flat of strawberries of the season (yes, I went for the big basket) was this Strawberry Thyme Cake. This cake boasts fresh, lively flavors and completely embodies the ease of summer. wanted to create a cake that could equally be shared at a casual picnic in the late-afternoon shade as well as something stunning enough and unexpected to bring to a summer dinner party under the stars, and this beauty certainly delivers. With its unfrosted, “naked” sides and a wreath of fresh thyme, it is simple yet dramatic. The addition of fresh herbs adds a bit of interest and a welcoming twist to otherwise basic flavors.
The cake itself is light and fresh, and totally one of those cakes that could be served with just some freshly whipped cream, berries, and icing sugar. The use of ricotta cheese makes it extremely tender yet study enough to support the strawberry cheesecake filling I’ve paired it with in this combination. The strawberry “cheesecake” filling is a lighter version of the heavy, super-sugary cream cheese frosting that we are usually accustomed to. I’ve simply whipped in some softened cream cheese into silky meringue buttercream and stirred in some strawberry preserves. For extra sweetness, freshness, and an element that takes this cake to the next level, each layer was generously brushed with a lemon-thyme simple syrup. The cake was finished with only a thin crumb coat of frosting – allowing all the flavors to really shine and not be bogged down by too much sugar. Plus, how much are we all loving gorgeous, naked cakes these days?!?!?
Be sure to head on over to The Cake Blog for the recipe!