Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

JessTrev passes on a recipe for a pink* strawberry cake with pink frosting and a rainbow.

As I mentioned last week, we've been up to our ears in birthday celebrations around here. My darling firstborn had a pretty specific request for the birthday cake for her kindergarten celebration. Not one to be daunted by the possibly opposing demands of this particular child (rainbow + pink) - mother (abhorrence of artificial dyes and flavorings) dyad, I came up with a compromise. Not, of course, a locavore dessert! But made from fresh, real ingredients like strawberries (instead of flavored gelatin). The cake tasted delicious and was, as ordered, pink and rainbow-y.

*The only kicker? When I asked EGirl how she liked her birthday cake, she said nonchalantly, "Well, the boys probably liked it. It was really kind of light brown." Sigh. So much for my little Gloria Steinem-in-training. After noting smugly that I'd better cancel the chocolate cake I'd planned for our family celebration (oh, yes I did!), I offered to put some pureed beets in next year to make it look pinker. She's game cause she loves the chocolate beet muffins we make. I'll let you know when I master the ratio!

Here's my adaptation of the Fresh Strawberry Cake recipe from The Baking Pan:

Ingredients for Batter:
3 cups cake flour (ok, I already had organic white flour/corn starch on hand, so I used this substitution for cake flour -- put 1 Tbsp organic corn starch in the bottom of your measuring cup and then fill to top with flour, then repeat)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups pureed fresh strawberries
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, chilled

Ingredients for Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pureed fresh strawberries
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar

Ingredients for Fruit Rainbow:

1/2 a strawberry for center heart
maraschino cherries (Silver Palate makes em without dyes)
canned mandarin oranges
canned crushed pineapple
kiwi fruit

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a rectangular cake pan (their recipe is for 3 round cakes but my kid wanted a flat cake so I rolled with it and it turned out fine). I don't know the dimensions. It's roughly the size of a lasagna pan. Forgive me, I am not really a baker. All the exact measuring of the dry goods makes me rebellious.

Medium bowl: combine flour+cornstarch mix, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to mix and set aside.

Large bowl: cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat until mixed. Add strawberries and vanilla, beat until mixed.

Alternately add buttermilk and flour mixture to butter mixture. Or, if you are not a careful reader, just add the buttermilk all at the end in a panic and it will still work out right.

Stir until just blended. If 3 round cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. If rectangular cake, start checking at about 20 minutes and determine when done by using the old toothpick-in-the-center trick.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then, if you have any kind of time available and didn't allow your child to make the frosting with you at 8am before school rendering cooling time laughable before 10am snack delivery, remove from pans and allow to cool thoroughly on wire rack.

Strawberry Frosting Directions:

Medium bowl: combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then stir in strawberries. Add 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, then make sure you have the rest of the bag on hand. As you can see from the picture, the frosting was a tad runny. But that may have been a result of my still-piping-hot cake, who knows!

Rainbow: ROYGBIV, baby. Have fun with it!

As an aside, I'd like to comment that I'm a-ok with being over-the-top for my kid's birthday. Do I usually buy canned food (especially acidic fruit? holy BPA!)? Nope. Do I think flying in fruit from all corners of the earth is a sustainable everyday practice? Nope. But this middle-of-the-road mom does love making her kid smile on her birthday! Heck, even Laura Ingalls Wilder got oranges in her stocking. There's a reason some things just feel special. And there's always trade-offs to be made. Actually makes me think about The Conscious Shopper's spot-on post about values....


Susannah said...

Hilarious! I can just imagine the excitement at your house around 8:40am - stir the frosting! put on your shoes! where's my backpack? stir the frosting!

The cake looks scrumptious and if it makes any difference, I'm on board with your trade-offs.

Strawberry Girl said...

OK I couldn't help commenting about this, YUM!! :D

Green Bean said...

Boo-tiful! Even if it is "light brown." ;-)

Alison said...

I love the cake! Looks just like it came out of the Hungry Caterpillar! And just in case the beets don't work, the natural dyes from India Tree actually make a pretty good pink!

JessTrev said...

Thanks, Alison - I haven't had good luck with natural dyes (holy expensive light browns, Batman!) but will give the India Tree dye a shot if the beets don't pan out.

Green Bean - kinda "light green" *and* "light brown"!

Strawberry Girl ;)

Susannah - yeah, it was totally that kind of morning. ill advised but had to seize the (powdered sugar everywhere) moment.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Our wedding cake had strawberry filling, since strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert. I make a variation of it every year for our anniversary.

Perhaps I'll try yours this June!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

The cake looks amazing! We're definitely going to have to give this a try!

Thanks for the mention!

Alfie said...

Her preference for pink not withstanding, L-girl is thankfully a chocolate-holic! Perhaps there's a pink (chocolate) velvet cake in our future??

I like the book swap idea though, as all our playgroup kids' birthdays are coming up this June.

Hugs and kisses to E-girl (and the rest of the family) from the Montana crew...

AnnMarie said...

Finally made this last night with the last frozen strawberries. It worked quite well. except luckily I had buttermilk powder, because I didn't need the extra liquid.

I made it for DH, who had wanted to buy a boxed mix for s'berry cake a couple months ago. He grew up on that kind of food and often doesn't like the taste of real food. I was delighted to wake up this morning and find it 3/4s gone (I made only a half recipe). I guess he liked it!


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