God bless Mother Nature for juicy summer berries that ripen just in time for the Fourth of July. Dreaming up red, white and blue food can be a stretch, even if food marketers have made it their business to dream up all manner of unnatural color combinations.
Red, white and blue frosted Pop Tarts, anyone?
If you're looking for an edible triumvirate that is as delicious as it is patriotic, try The Star's Patriotic Fruit Torte, which resembles the American flag, thanks to a strawberry filling, a helping of blueberries and a fluffy angel food cake.
At our house, dessert is an all-American tradition. A right, even for those concerned with good nutrition. Now I try to tell the kids that fruit is a dessert. Most of the time, they don't buy it. But they can't seem to resist mixed berries spooned over angel food cake.
Strawberries contain plenty of anthocyanins, natural plant pigments that function as an antioxidant, and ellagic acid that is believed to help neutralize carcinogenic agents. They also contain plenty of vitamin C.
Made with beaten egg whites, angel food cake contains no fat or cholesterol. The only problem is making the cake from scratch involves separating a lot of eggs - not my favorite chore.
Always skeptical of shortcuts that churn out poor results, I tested this recipe with a boxed cake mix. (If you can find the right shape, you could even buy a cake and just assemble.) I taste-tested the boxed cake, which is a cinch to make, on the kids. My 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter thought it tasted great. Almost homemade, even.
Once I had unmolded the cake from its loaf pan, I was wowed by the visual presentation. And, yes, I had to admit that once topped with juicy berries, a dollop of yogurt (for calcium!) and toasted nuts (good fat!), it was a great holiday dessert with a minimal amount of assembly required.
Portion size is always an issue to keep in mind, especially with dessert. It's easy to polish off more than your fair share of this cake. (Guilty! I admit to a slice at breakfast one morning.)
Remember, the calorie count is low, but eating half the cake will cost you. Share some with friends and family instead.
To contact Jill Wendholt Silva, food editor, call (816) 234-4395 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patriotic fruit torte
Makes 8 servings
1 (16-ounce) package angel food cake mix
2 cups strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam, melted
1 (6-ounce) container vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup blueberries
8 teaspoons sliced almonds, toasted
Prepare angel food cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into 2 (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans; bake according to package directions. Cool completely. (Use one loaf cake for recipe; reserve second loaf for other use or wrap and freeze for serving later.
Place strawberries, sugar and jam in a food processor. Pulse to coarsely chop and set aside.
Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing plastic wrap to extend over edge of pan. Cut cake horizontally into 4 slices. Place 1 cake slice in bottom of pan. Spread with 1/3 of strawberry mixture. Top with another slice cake. Repeat layers ending with cake slice. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Place serving plate upside down on top of pan. Invert cake onto plate and remove plastic wrap. Cut torte into 8 slices. Dollop yogurt evenly in top left corner of slices and sprinkle evenly with blueberries. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon almonds on each serving.
Per serving: 172 calories (11 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), 1 milligram cholesterol, 36 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 207 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Recipe developed for The Star by certified home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.
Cooking tip: To cut cake, use a serrated knife. Turn the loaf on its side and cut in half, then cut each of the halves into half again.
Storage tip: Do not wash strawberries or blueberries until ready to eat. Store in an airtight container. Strawberries last two to three days. Blueberries last about four to five days.