Kid-friendly French Butter and Jam Cake + Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries + Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: French Butter and Jam Cake + Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries + Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks

Family Meal Plan: French Butter and Jam Cake + Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries + Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks

French Butter and Jam Cake + Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries + Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Dylan Sabuco
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
30 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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French Butter and Jam Cake

The French are known for the art of "pâtisserie" (puh-TEE-suh-ree)—their cakes are some of the best in the world! Our French Butter and Jam Cake is inspired by the French tradition. And believe me, with its tender crumb and rich, buttery flavor, this cake knocks the socks off store-bought mixes!

French Butter and Jam Cake is the cake for all of life's moments, from major milestones to quiet afternoons. You can dress it up with layers of your favorite jam or sprinkle powdered sugar on top for a quick and pretty finish. (Your cake, your choice!) Either way, this is a cake that speaks the language of love and luxury and is perfect for making any occasion feel extraordinary.

And, for an ensemble fit for a Parisian café, serve it up with some Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries and fizzy Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks. Cheers!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 3 C fresh or frozen strawberries **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 eggs **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 stick or 1/2 C unsalted butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 C orange juice
  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C jam, your choice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • paper cupcake liners

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • bake :

    to cook food with dry heat, as in an oven.

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • boil :

    to cook a food in liquid heated to the point of gas bubbles and steam forming (boiling point is 212 F at sea level).

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Small saucepan
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Fork or toothpick
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Large pot
  • Measuring tools
  • Cups
  • Strainer


French Butter and Jam Cake

  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub 2 C gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 2 T flaxseed + 1/3 C warm water—more info below)**
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1 stick or 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand)**
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C jam – your choice, optional
  • 1/2 C water
  • paper cupcake liners

Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries

  • 2 C fresh or frozen strawberries **(for STRAWBERRY ALLERGY sub blueberries)**
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks

  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C fresh or frozen strawberries **(for STRAWBERRY ALLERGY sub blueberries)**
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C orange juice

Food Allergen Substitutions

French Butter and Jam Cake

  • Gluten/Wheat: For 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour, substitute 2 C gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour. Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 
  • Egg: For 2 eggs, substitute 2 T flax seed + 1/3 C warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Dairy: For 1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, substitute 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand.

Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries

  • Strawberry: Substitute blueberries for strawberries.

Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks

  • Strawberry: Substitute blueberries for strawberries.


French Butter and Jam Cake


Croissants, puff pastry, and macarons: these sweet treats and more come to mind when thinking about France. The art of baking has a long history with many roots in France. In the 1800s, baking was becoming elegant, refined, and more than just making bread. At that time, chefs and bakers started to create recipes like croissants and macarons. In grocery stores and kitchens across the world, the recipes and influence from that era of French (food) history can still be seen and tasted to this day. This recipe is an ode to the buttery and decadent history of French baking.


Preheat your oven to 350 F.

measure + mix

In a large mixing bowl, add 1 stick or 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. This step is called creaming, when you combine sugar and butter to form the creamy base of a batter.

crack + stir

Next, crack in 2 eggs, add 1/2 cup water and stir until just incorporated.

measure + mix

In a medium mixing bowl, measure 1 3/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Whisk a few times before adding the mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients. Mix together, and once fully combined, set aside for 5 minutes to rest. Tip: Over-stirring batter and dough develops too much gluten and will result in a harder than desired cake.

scrumptious science

In the above steps, you are creating gluten inside of the cake batter. Gluten is a protein strand that forms when glutamate (a precursor to the gluten in flour) mixes with water. The act of mixing the glutamate and water together causes a reaction that results in the creation of gluten. For a moment, compare gluten to a rubber band in your mind. Both are elastic and stretchy and snap back to their original shape. These qualities are great for making cakes and other pastries. Without gluten (or a substitute), you will find there is a spongy, fluffy texture missing from your dish.


Place cupcake liners in the wells of a muffin pan. Fill each one with the batter until about halfway full. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to ensure each cupcake liner has the same amount of batter. This will help ensure that your cakes all cook an even amount of time. Slide the muffin pan into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top, and a fork or toothpick comes out cleanly when inserted into the center of the cake. Cool the cakes for a few minutes before garnishing.

garnish + serve

Once the cakes have cooled slightly, it's time to add the jam (see recipe for Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries)! Simply spread 1/2 cup of the black pepper stewed strawberries OR your favorite jam over the top the cakes (roughly 2 teaspoons per cake). For a jam-filled cupcake, you can carve out a small hole from the top of the cake using a spoon or knife and pour the jam inside, then reseal the hole with the cake you removed. Time to dig in! Bon appétit!

Black Pepper Stewed Strawberries


Black pepper and strawberries may sound like a combination of flavors you never wanted to try but bear with me. In the 1980s, it became a trend to sprinkle black pepper on your strawberries before eating them. This strange flavor phenomenon took Europe by storm. The pairing combines the sweet and borderline sourness of strawberries with the subtle spice of black pepper to create a new and surprising flavor. This recipe is a saucy and sticky interpretation of that trendy flavor combo.

clean + chop

Rinse and remove the tops from 2 cups of strawberries, discarding the tops. Then, chop the strawberries into a large dice. Place all the chopped strawberries into a small saucepan.

measure + stir

Measure 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 cup water and pour them into the pan with the chopped strawberries. Place the pan on your stove top and turn the heat to high. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

boil + simmer

Once the mixture reaches a rolling boil, immediately turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, or more. The longer you boil the mixture, the stickier and jam-like the berries will become.

cool + garnish

Allow the berries and syrup to cool for at least 5 minutes before using them. Drizzle the syrup over your favorite cake or ice cream. Scoop out some strawberries from the liquid and use those on top of our French Butter and Jam Cake. Bon appetit!

Strawberry "Shrub" Drinks


Shrubs are drinks made using vinegar as the surprise ingredient. Sounds crazy, right?! This drink traditionally has sugar and fruit added to balance the sourness of the vinegar. For this version of a shrub, you will use apple cider vinegar for its high amount of flavor and natural slight sweetness. Combine that with orange juice, strawberries, and sugar, and you are in store for a tasty and unique sipping experience.

clean + chop

Rinse and chop the green top off of 1 cup of strawberries, discarding the tops. Place the strawberries in a large saucepan.

measure + boil

Measure and pour in 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 1 cup orange juice. Place the pan over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.


Gather as many cups as you need to serve your family and fill them halfway with ice.

blend + strain

Turn the heat off. Then, using a blender (or pitcher for use with an immersion blender), blend all the contents of the saucepan. Strain the mixture to remove all the strawberry bits. Finally, pour the drink over the ice in your cups and enjoy! Cheers!

Surprise Ingredient: Butter!

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Photo by Oksana Mizina/

Hi! I'm Butter!

"I'm a byproduct of churned cream used in cooking and as a spread for bread. I'm really yummy when I'm melted and poured over freshly popped popcorn! You don't have to "butter me up" (flatter me) to get me to add richness to your food!"

History & Etymology

  • According to Elaine Khosrova, author and pastry chef, butter may have originated 8,000 years ago in Africa. A shepherd had tied a bag of warm sheep's milk to the back of a sheep and found that after traveling a few miles, the milk had curdled, creating a tasty substance. She claims butter would have come from the milk of sheep and goats before cow's milk. 
  • The method of churning butter eventually changed from having bags of milk dangling from domesticated animals' backs to hanging them from tree branches. 
  • In places where olive oil was preferred with bread and cooking, as in ancient Greece and Rome, butter was seen as a food for barbarians. However, it was accepted as a medicinal ointment. 
  • A 4,500-year-old Sumerian tablet describes making butter from cows. 
  • Scandinavia was exporting butter by the 12th century. Butter did not spoil as quickly in northern Europe as in southern climates. In Ireland, in the 11th to 14th centuries, butter was placed in firkins (wooden vessels or casks) and buried in peat bogs to preserve it. Archaeologists can still find buried butter firkins in Ireland.
  • Butter was churned by hand on farms until the 19th century. Farmers would make enough for themselves and to sell in brick form for extra income.
  • In the 1860s, butter factories started up in the United States. In 1894, Gustaf de Laval patented the first centrifugal milk-cream separator, which sped up the butter-making process. 
  • At home, you can make butter by shaking or whipping heavy cream, causing the butter fats to separate from the liquid until it turns into butter and buttermilk!
  • The latter half of the 20th century would see margarine overtake butter in popularity because it was less expensive and seen as healthier. That changed somewhat in the early 2000s, but both products have been surpassed in recent years with healthier fats, like canola and olive oils. 
  • The United States produces the most butter worldwide, followed by New Zealand and Germany. 
  • The word "butter" is from the Old English "butere," of West Germanic origin, from the Latin "butyrum," from the Greek "bouturon."


  • Butter is a dairy product made from cream, which is typically 80 percent butterfat. It is a solid substance when refrigerated, and at room temperature, it is semi-solid. When heated, it melts and becomes a liquid.
  • Butter is most often made from cow's milk, although it can also be made from goat, sheep, buffalo, and yak milk. 

How to Buy & Eat

  • In the US, butter is typically purchased in 1-pound packages with four 4-ounce sticks. The sticks may come in the Elgin or Eastern-pack shape: 4 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches. This form was named for a dairy in Elgin, Illinois. Or, they will be in the Western-pack shape: 3 1/4 x 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches. Butter dishes are generally designed for the Elgin shape. 
  • Most butter has 80 percent butterfat. If your recipe calls for butter with more butterfat content, look for a European-style butter. It is churned longer and has 82 to 90 percent butterfat. 
  • You can purchase salted or unsalted butter. In baking, recipes often call for unsalted butter. If you use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted, you may not need as much or any additional salt. 
  • The culinary uses for butter are extensive. You can spread it on bread, toast, and other baked goods. It is a cooking fat that adds flavor to pan-fried foods. Cooking vegetables in a little butter allows the sugars in the veggies to carmelize. Adding butter when finishing a sauce makes the sauce rich and creamy. Baking with butter will add texture and richness to cakes, cookies, and pastries and make them more tender. Mix it with powdered sugar, and you have buttercream frosting!
  • Several foods have "butter" as an ingredient and in their names, including butter cookies, butter cake, butter chicken, butter rice, butter pecan ice cream, buttercream, butterscotch (candy), butter pie, bread and butter pudding, and cookie butter (a sweet food paste). The French "beurre blanc" ("butter white") is a rich white butter sauce. 


  • One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories, 12 grams of fat (7 grams saturated fat), one-tenth gram of protein, and no carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar. It has 355 IU of vitamin A and small amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Salted butter has 91 milligrams of sodium.
  • Eating butter may increase the absorption of other nutrients in the foods it is in. 
  • Butter is not a heart-healthy fat, so it should be eaten in moderation.

Fun Facts about French Baking!

Photo by Elena Dijour/
  • Croissants, puff pastry, and macarons! These sweet treats and more come to mind when thinking about France. The art of baking has a long history with many roots in France. 
  • In the 1800s, baking was becoming elegant, refined, and more than just making bread. At that time, chefs and bakers started to create recipes like croissants and macarons. In grocery stores and kitchens across the world, the recipes and influence from that era of French (food) history can still be seen and tasted to this day. This recipe is an ode to the buttery and decadent history of French baking.
  • Pâte à choux is one style of French pastry used to make éclairs and profiteroles. Flour and butter are cooked on the stove, and then eggs are added one at a time until the right consistency is achieved. When baked, steam rises, and the pastry puffs up, creating a hollow to fill with cream.
  • The French word "pâtisserie" (puh-TEE-suh-ree) refers to a shop where French cakes and pastries are sold or describes the baked goods themselves.

Let's Learn About France!

Photo by Alliance Images/
  • Bonjour (hello)! Bienvenue en (welcome to) France and the spectacular Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci, and ancient Roman ruins in the Provence region.
  • France is a European country, and its official name is the French Republic. The capital city is Paris, which also has the most people. 
  • France's land area is 248,573 square miles. That is almost the size of the US state of Texas! The number of people in France is 67,874,000, about 43 percent more than in Texas.
  • The official and national language is French, which is also the official language in 12 other countries, and a co-official language in 16 countries, including Canada. 
  • France's government consists of a president, a prime minister, and a parliament and is divided into regions and departments rather than states and counties.
  • The French have a well-known motto, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."
  • In addition to the Eiffel Tower, France is known for the Louvre, the most visited art museum worldwide (the Mona Lisa resides there), the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) in southeastern France on the Mediterranean coast.
  • France is famous for the "beaux-arts" (fine arts). Paris is still home to many artists and great painters, artisans, and sculptors. Great literature came from French authors, such as Victor Hugo's novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Paris has two popular nicknames. The most common is "The City of Light" (La Ville Lumière), which came about because Paris was the first European city to implement street lighting in 1860, lighting up the city with 56,000 gas street lamps. The second is "The City of Love," (La Ville de L'amour). This name is probably due to Paris being considered one of the most romantic cities in the world and the high number of marriage proposals at the Eiffel Tower!
  • French cuisine is known for its freshness and high quality. Many of the world's greatest pastries originated in France, such as the croissant, eclair, and macaron!
  • Other French foods are escargot (snails!), baguette (bread), ratatouille (roasted tomato, zucchini, and eggplant—remember the movie?!), and crepes (very thin pancakes).

What's It Like to Be a Kid in France?

  • Most kids start school (preschool) at around age three. Depending on the area and the school, students go to school 4 to 5 days a week. They often get a 1½-hour lunch break, and some kids go home for lunch. 
  • Dinner is served at 7:30 pm or later, so afternoon snacks are essential. "Le goûter" (goo-tay), or afternoon tea, often includes a "tartine," a slice of bread topped with something sweet or savory (like cheese, butter and jam, or Nutella). Other popular snacks are yogurt, fromage blanc (white cheese), and fruit. 
  • Popular sports for kids are soccer, bicycling, and tennis.
  • There are several parks in France, in and around Paris. Napoleon III even designed one of them, the Bois de Boulogne, where you can find beautiful gardens, lakes, a zoo, an amusement park, and two horse racing tracks. In addition, kids can go on pony rides, play mini-golf, and race remote control boats at many public parks.  
  • Of course, kids can also go to the most popular theme park in Europe, Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992. While there, kids can go on a ride unique to Disneyland Paris: Ratatouille: The Adventure!

The Yolk's On You

What sounds like a small tree and has fruit like some trees, but you can drink it?

A shrub!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why were the little strawberries upset? 

Because their parents were in a jam!

THYME for a Laugh

Why couldn't the worried strawberries be consoled?

They were stewing in their own juice!

Lettuce Joke Around

What is a scarecrow’s favorite fruit? 


Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the students eat their homework? 

Because the teacher said that it was a piece of cake.

The Yolk's On You

What do you call strawberries playing the guitar? 

A jam session!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the cake go to the doctor? 

Because it was feeling crumby.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a sad strawberry? 

A blueberry.

That's Berry Funny

Which cake do baseball players like most? 

Bundt cake.

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