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Wed, Mar 25, 2020

Harvesting our Heritage: Strawberries & Jam Cake

Is there anything better than a juicy California-grown strawberry? Thanks to the rich soil, moderate climate, and local powerhouse farms Santa Cruz County is synonymous with amazing strawberries.

Inside, the MAH Publication Harvesting our Heritage, local historians, and foodies dig into the unique stories found across Santa Cruz County fields and tables. One of the stories found within the pages? You guessed it, strawberries.

Olympic Berries

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Photo by Liz Birnbaum

Commercial strawberries, as we know them today, were not popular until the early 1900s. However, by the start of the 21st century, Santa Cruz County was known for producing some of the best berries in the world.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, the athletes demanded three main types of fruit, and one of those was strawberries. Driscoll’s and California Giant leaped at the opportunity to showcase the region’s sweetest crop and shipped Pajaro Valley strawberries across the world to satisfy the Olympians’ cravings. Now, these berries are recognized worldwide and can be enjoyed in recipes even the budding home chef can recreate.

Time for Dessert

In the 1950s, shoppers would receive fifty cents off a basket of the freshest SCC-grown berries if they also bought a can of whipped cream and store-bought pound cake.

If that sounds like a delicious deal, try out this recipe from the 1900s which may taste just as good. Grab your berries, baking utensils, and some jam to give it a try. Let us know how it comes out by tagging us on social media.

Recipe: Jam Cake

Download the PDF Version


1 ½ cups butter at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup strawberry jam


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform cake pan

In an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater or with a hand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt

In a small bowl combine the baking soda and buttermilk, stirring until the baking soda is dissolved. Add the butter mixture, and mix until combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter until just combined.

Fold the jam into the batter until evenly distributed.

Pour batter into a prepared pan and level with a rubber spatula. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove from the pan to cool on rack completely.

* We recommend sprinkling fresh strawberries on top and serving right away *

Cover Image by Liz Birnbaum