I have a freezer that is busting at the seams. I don't think I'm alone in this. Moose meat from my brother-in-law, homemade pie crusts, vegetables, fruit, ravioli, English muffins, and those pesky ice packs, have all made themselves very comfortable in their chilly box. I am always scared to open the freezer (dreaming of one day having a pull out drawer version), in fear that another piece of pork will fall out and smash my toe (yes, it's happened more than once with various food products, ouch!).
So, determined to make some room, I took out the first things I saw, strawberries, cherries, and a huge 3lb. bag of Wyman's Maine blueberries. It was time to lighten the load, but how. I didn't want to make the world's largest smoothie, so instead I gritted my teeth and turned on the oven. I try to avoid doing this as much as possible during the hot desert summers, but sometimes you just have to take one for the team (or in this case, the freezer.
Everything in the Freezer Skillet Cake
- 1 lb. of fruit (I used cherries, blueberries, and strawberries)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
You'll also need a buttered 10" cake pan or cast iron skillet.
Start off by preheating your oven to 350°F and buttering your pan generously.
My mom always taught me to save the butter wrappers in the fridge when you were done with the butter itself to use for just an occasion as this. Just fold the wrapper in half to avoid it getting everywhere and pop it in the same place as where you keep your butter. Anytime you need a buttered pan, grab one or two, depending, and voila!
Once it's buttered up, mix the first few dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
To the mixer! I got my KitchenAid Mixer for my wedding from my grandmother and haven't looked back. It's one of the most wonderful kitchen tools and saves so much time. Every once in a while, I do still grab my favorite wooden spoon and mix something up the old fashioned way.
Anyways, into the mixer throw the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix on medium for a couple of minutes until its well combined and fluffy, with a lovely light yellow hue to it.
Add the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix again until just combined. It won't look pretty, but don't worry, we'll fix that shortly.
Slowly, add the flour mixture from earlier to the wet ingredients, scraping the sides in between each addition of more flour. I did this in three batches. This ensures that everything is well combined.
See, doesn't that look better? Give it a try. Go on.
Pour or dollop the batter into the buttered pan. Smooth it out as evenly as possible. Don't even think about making it perfectly flat.
Next, add the berries. I just dumped the whole pile onto the batter and then, using my hands, placed the berries where I wanted them, so that there was even distribution.
Take your last tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle the skillet with its sweetness. You could use more sugar I suppose, if you want, but I really like allowing for the tartness of the berries to come through.
Carefully place the pan in the oven (middle rack should do), and bake for 10 minutes, then (no it's not done yet), lower the temperature to 325°F until it's golden brown and when you place a toothpick or chopstick (I think it works a lot better because of its length)in it, it comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes.
Place the pan on a cooling rack and let it sit. Remember, if you're using cast iron, it will continue to be very hot for a long time, so baker beware.
I will also warn you that it will begin to smell like a baker's heaven in your entire house (my husband was summoned by his nose from his office, which by the way had a closed door) after only about 20 minutes of cooking. Resist checking on it as often as you might like, but feel free to give it a friendly wink every now and again.
Once you've let it cool for as long as you can stand, slice yourself a piece and enjoy. A scoop of ice cream or a tad bit of whipped cream would go really well with it too.
You could store it in tin foil or plastic wrap if you'd like to free up your skillet. Give it a could scrape along the edges and it will pop right out. Otherwise, cover the top, once it's cooled and see how long it lasts, vulnerable and unguarded, on the counter.
The last bite is always the hardest. Why won't it last longer? I dragged my husband out of his office, poured a cup of coffee, and sat down to enjoy a little afternoon pick me up. I think it was a hit, he had two slices after all.
So, back to organizing that freezer of mine, a bit emptier now.