May 4, 2018

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

It’s strawberry time in Arkansas and there’s not a better place to find the prized berry than in the small town of Cabot, located about 25 minutes north of Little Rock.

I recently made the drive up to Holland Bottom Farm–a place that was recommended to me by a reader–early on a Saturday morning to buy a flat of berries and some of the farm’s strawberry jam. When I arrived at 8 a.m. (opening time), 15 people had already formed a line that extended into the parking lot. Great strawberries bring out the masses and this batch ended up being the sweetest, tastiest, and most beautiful berries that I’ve come across in my six years in Arkansas. They were that good.

I devoured 80% of them while standing over my kitchen sink, but did manage to save a few berries for a recipe. Specifically, I wanted to use them in this Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread.

After you check out the recipe, come back and read my helpful suggestions below:

1. Make sure your berries are ripe. You don’t want any hard berries going into the batter. If you’re buying strawberries from a local farm or farmer’s market, they are typically pretty ripe and ready to eat.

2. Pat the berries dry, as directed. This is an easy step to overlook because you may not think it’s needed. It is. The last thing you want is a soggy loaf of bread.

3. You will be very tempted to add extra strawberries to the batter. Don’t! Trust me, stick to the suggested 1 ½ cups of berries in the ingredients section.

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4. Read the recipe and you’ll notice this statement at the very end, “Let bread mellow for one day and then serve.” Wait, what? Are they serious? Who makes a delicious loaf of strawberry bread and lets it sit for a full day? Not this guy. But I do suggest letting the bread sit in the pan for 1-2 hours after it’s removed from the oven. Yes, a piping hot piece of bread can be delicious, but it will taste even better after a few hours.

5. The loaf is sizable but will go quickly if you have a few people in the house. My kids and I consumed one loaf in about two days. I suggest baking a few loaves at a time and putting one in the freezer.

This subtly sweet, moist strawberry cream cheese bread ended up getting rave reviews. I ditched the pecans in my version because of a nut allergy in our household, but I doubt this detracted much from the finished product.

Yes, there are a ton of bread recipes out there, but I think you’ll definitely enjoy this one, not only for its taste but as an alternative to the more popular banana bread. It did, however, get me to thinking, what if I combined strawberries and bananas in my next loaf?

I doubt anyone would complain.

In the meantime, I need to head back to Cabot for some more strawberries.

Kevin Shalin

Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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