Friday, October 24, 2008

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Frosting

My sweet wife is celebrating her birthday today and as is our custom in the Spoon house, you get to pick your birthday cake. The boys wanted her to swing toward a sheet cake covered in some comic hero from Target, but Mom--while loving store bought birthday cakes and all opted for a more mature decision. "I think I want Daddy to make me his strawberry cake." The boys dropped the sheet cake idea like a hot potato! They love Strawberries and the thought of those beautiful berries nestled in cake then frosted...priceless. I've always made this cake in two 9" pans and frost it with the accompanying Strawberry Cream frosting which I could eat with a's so delicious.

This strawberry cake couldn't be easier once you decide to make a cake for someone you love. The hardest thing to do it chop strawberries and even that can be streamlined into buying frozen whole berries and mashing them. We love this cake in our house and I think you will too. This can be made in a 9x13 just so you have permission to do that ahead of time.

Here are the cast of characters:
  • 1 Box White Cake Mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 3 oz. box of Strawberry Jell-O
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 T. Vanilla Extract (the REAL deal)
  • 1/8 t. Almond Extract (just use a cap full, that's what I do)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans (or one 9x13) set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer add cake mix, jello, flour,milk, and oil. Turn on low until mostly incorporated then increase to medium (5 or 6 on my Kitchen Aid) and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and strawberries. Mix just to incorporate (you can mix the berries more if you want them to be less chunky, I went with chunky.) [Is it me or is chunky kind of a gross word?]

Evenly distribute the batter into your two prepared pans. I rarely ever get them exactly even, I suppose you could measure and pour but I just eyeball it and act like it was supposed to be that way. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The cake will pull away from the sides and a cake tester will come out clean. I have a metal cake tester from Pampered Chef I love, buy one the next chance you get. Cool cakes on wire racks. Frost and refrigerate until ready to serve. I like this cake cold. After you serve the first slices you don't need to worry about keeping it in the fridge any more, there is just something about this cake cold first thing. Try it and see what I'm saying.

The aroma of this cake as it bakes will drive you crazy. Levi was going crazy because he LOVES cake! He was ready to eat that cake right on the spot! He will bring us boxes of cake and say, "Make dis for me, okay DA-DA" Of course you are not able to deny this beautiful brown eyes beauty of anything when those sweet words come out of his mouth. I think Levi has caught the cooking bug because he loves to cook and is very careful to watch exactly what I do. Maybe, just maybe he'll take all of his ingredients and put them into prep bowls like I can only dream.

When I read recipes that say to let a cake cool in the pan, it makes me nervous. I usually get that cake out of it's pan as soon as I can because I'm afraid the thing will stick and I'll have to go outside and scream unpleasantries in my backyard under my breath. There are two stainless steel cake pans I've had since before I was married I picked up at a garage sale that are my favorite cake pans in the world. These babies are heavy and wonderful giving me perfect results every time. I always hand Crisco and flour when cake baking. Bundt baking I use the flour spray, but these pans and I work better together when I give them a massage before they endure the fires of my oven. One other trick I always always follow is to NEVER dish wash my pans. I always hand wash my pans, even the non-stick pans. If you put your non-stick pans in the dishwasher the agents used to make the detergent work will make your non-stick...stick. I just don't want to have any foreign things corrupting my baking so I hand wash, it doesn't take that much time and the dishwater is good to wipe down the counters. And your wife's felt Halloween runner that can't be washed only dry cleaned and we aren't dry cleaning a felt runner so I had to get it clean because Levi was helping me.

Have we talked Frosting yet? No, ok let's do that. Here are the very simple cast of characters, with three no-shows for the picture:
  • One stick of room temperature butter. Take your butter out of the fridge when you first start getting your duke together and it will be perfect by the time is frosting making time.
  • One 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese
  • 2 lb. package of Powdered Sugar. This is roughly 4 cups
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t. Almond Extract (cap full)
  • 2 teaspoons of Milk (may need up to 1T)
This is best done in a stand mixer, but since I put the bowl in the dishwasher because I had a three year-old about to decimate my strawberries with a plastic knife and was distracted. I used a large bowl with my hand mixer.

Add the butter and cream cheese along with the extracts to the bowl and mix on low until incorporated. I add the milk here because these two fats (butter and cream cheese) don't really like to come together until their cousin milk comes to play then everyone is happy and we all get along. Milk is the magic elixir, it can be done without it but will take a little longer. The cream cheese and butter will look like this when it's done.

At this point you will want to begin adding the powdered sugar. There will be no less than five times that you feel like this is too much powdered sugar, but stay the course and don't loose heart because it is not, in fact too much. Go slow, powdered sugar is very excitable and like to BURST into emotional outbreaks all over the place. You will need to be patient. In a stand mixer the work is MUCH much less. Slowly add all the powdered sugar. It will be very thick and very much like peanut butter. Add your very finely chopped strawberries and stir or mix. The moisture from the strawberries will give a little more help to the frosting making it smoother and easier to spread. If you want it more red, you could add a few drops of red dye, but I don't want it to look fake. I think the natural attributes that the strawberries give are great and do their job. Just fine. I tried to get as close as I could to the chopped berries, to give you an idea. They are finely chopped.

This is so delicious. I really love to eat this cake. I was talking to a long time friend, and the benefactor of this recipe, Mildred and we decided to try this method using Lemon with a lemon curd filling. I'm a sucker for a good lemon cake so I may just have to try it out. You'll be along for the ride. Plus I love using a microplane grater, I really do.

1 comment:

Donna Layton said...

I was just about to BLAST you for not giving me credit when I read the last paragraph. I really want you to get on the lemon thing. would be so stinkin good.