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A classic dessert for the Fourth

The berries are ripe, so it’s time for strawberry shortcake

There are some scrumptious-looking discoveries in the new “United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State.”

In Warren Brown’s new cookbook, a follow up to “CakeLove,” he honors each state with a recipe and throws in a few American classics for good measure. He includes an apple cake for Washington and huckleberry cake for Idaho, but it’s the perfect time of year for Strawberry Shortcake.

Growers at Green Bluff reported this week that the berries are ready for picking. Check out the Green Bluff growers’ website for details, www.greenbluff The business association’s Facebook page also includes timely updates.

Here’s Brown’s take on the classic Fourth of July dessert, which includes Bundt cake and Italian meringue buttercream:

Strawberry Shortcake

From “United Cakes of America,” by Warren Brown (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2010)

For the sugared strawberries:

2 pints fresh strawberries or frozen strawberries, thawed

4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) superfine granulated sugar

1 recipe Bundt cake (recipe follows)

For the buttercream filling:

10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) superfine granulated sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

5 egg whites

16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash the berries in a colander and let them drain. Hull (cut the leafy tops off) the berries and quarter them with a paring knife.

Combine the berries and 4 ounces sugar in a large bowl and toss well with a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds, or until the berries are thoroughly coated with the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours – the longer the better.

When you’re ready to make the cake, strain the strawberry liquid and reserve for another use. Set berries aside.

While the cake is baking, make the buttercream. Combine 8 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium high heat and cook until the temperature registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, whip the egg whites on high speed to stiff peaks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment. Time everything so that the sugar syrup reaches 245 degrees at about the same time the egg whites form stiff peaks.

Just before the sugar syrup is ready, drizzle the remaining 2 ounces of sugar into the egg whites and continue to whip on high speed.

In a slow and steady stream, pour the sugar syrup between the revolving wire whip and the side of the bowl. Reduce the speed to medium high after 30 seconds and continue to whip for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the butter to the meringue and increase the speed to high to fully incorporate it. Add the vanilla and combine.

Once the cake (recipe follows) has cooled, slice it in half horizontally with a serrated knife.

Spread 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the butter cream on the bottom layer of cake, and spoon on half of the sugared strawberries. Add the top layer of cake, spread the same amount of buttercream and spoon on the remaining strawberries. Reserve any leftover buttercream for another use.

Yield: One layered Bundt cake

Bundt Cake

From “United Cakes of America,” by Warren Brown (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2010)

For the cake:

15 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter

21 ounces (2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) superfine granulated sugar

6 eggs

For the glaze:

1/2 cup milk or water

8 1/2 ounces (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar (plus more if needed)

Preheat the oven to 335 degrees and place the rack in the middle position. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick oil and starch spray.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl and the milk and vanilla in another. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl all the way to the bottom using a flexible spatula and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.

Alternately add the dry and wet mixtures to the creamed butter and eggs about a quarter at a time without pausing between additions. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and mix on low for another 20 seconds.

Gently scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed and a wooden skewer inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a rack so it’s resting right side up. Let it cool completely.

Combine the ingredients for the glaze and whisk.

Drizzle the mixture over the cooled pound cake and let gravity push the glaze down the sides of the cake. If it won’t pour well, add a little more liquid, as needed.

Yield: 1 Bundt cake