E’s birthday is coming up and I asked him what kind of cake he’d like this year. I was totally thinking he was going to say “Chocolate” because that’s what he always gets. In fact, I wasn’t even sure he was aware that other cake flavors existed. So imagine my surprise when he asked for “Strawberry.”
“Strawberry shortcake?” I asked.
“No. Strawberry cake,” he insisted.
I’m always up for a baking challenge so I searched the internet for “strawberry cake.” It was shockingly hard to find anything that didn’t call for boxed white cake mix, J-ello, and food coloring. I mean, strawberry cake should be made with STRAWBERRIES, right? (I’m looking at you, Paula Deen.)
Finally, I found a strawberry cake recipe from The Foodie Bride. She says that this recipe is the most popular recipe on her site and I can see why. It is very simple and has two different methods of using strawberry puree and she talks about using fresh and frozen berries. I used the cooked method because I wanted the strawberry flavor and color to be really pronounced.
To make the cooked puree I used 3 cups (24oz) of frozen strawberries that I’d thawed. (I measured them while they were still frozen.) I cooked them and all the thawed liquid from the strawberries for about 15 minutes so that the berries were really soft and squishy. You will be squishing them through a mostly fine sieve with a rubber spatula so you want the berries to release their juice as much as possible. The more juice you get the more flavor there will be. Then I boiled the strawberry juice I’d gotten down to be 1/2 cup. It got really thick and syrupy and delicious. In fact, the syrup was a lot like jelly when it was cooled. [I am only publishing the cooked method here because that’s what I did. If you don’t want to cook your puree please check out the original recipe here.]
1/2 cup of the cooked strawberry puree
1/2 cup milk
6 large egg whites (or 4 whole eggs – although the yellow yolks make the color a little muddy)
2 tsp vanilla
2 & 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted (I interpreted this to mean take 2 & 1/4 cups of flour and then sift it.)
1 & 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
Preheat oven to 350*F
In a medium-sized bowl add the strawberry puree, the milk, egg whites, and vanilla. Whisk together to blend really well. These are your wet ingredients.
In a stand mixer add the sifted flour, the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the butter and mix on low until the dry ingredients look like clumps and crumbs. Add the wet ingredients. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and mix in any bits that haven’t been well blended.
Pour into either 2 prepared 8-inch cake pans (spray with Pam and then dust with flour) or into 2 12-cup cupcake pans. Bake the cake pans for 24 minutes or the cupcakes for 20 minutes.
I baked my cupcake pans at the same time on two different racks and then halfway through baking I switch their levels and rotated them around. You can bake the 8-inch cake pans on the same rack, but still swap them and rotate them halfway through baking – this ensures an even bake.
A note about the color – I used 4 whole eggs for this test because I can’t stand waste and I didn’t have a use for 6 egg yolks at that moment. The next time I make this I will definitely be using egg whites only because the color will be a more true pink color. This was a test for taste only.
I used a cream cheese frosting. At first blush the flavor of the frosting completely overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the strawberry, but after storing overnight the flavors melded really well. I also tested a buttercream frosting and was very pleased. It really only needed a little bit over the top of the cake to impart that nice vanilla richness to bump up the strawberry of the cake. I’m usually a huge fan of frosting, but this one really didn’t need a lot.
And the verdict is …. it is DELICIOUS. The flavor is unmistakably strawberry and fresh. Sifting the flour make the crumb of the cake really light and delicate. It’s is a true pleasure to eat and enjoy. The kids loved it and E wants another test batch before his birthday.