The most DELICIOUS strawberry cake {you will EVER put in your mouth} recipe.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Truth, I really don't enjoy cooking all that much. Baking, on the other hand... baking, I enjoy. Baking, I can do. I've made a habit of sourcing and experimenting with healthier versions of baked goods (see skinny tricks here), but every once in a while ya just need some good old fashioned cake! 
And it's spring! And strawberries are amazing right now! So I found a recipe on this site, {which was adapted from Cook's Illustrated Classic White Cake} and altered to come up with my own method and version. I served it after Easter dinner to mucho praise and applause, and as I type this, I am savoring the last dense-but-moist, flavorful-but not-too-sweet, delectable, divine, outrageously delicious bites. Enough said. Here's how you make it: 

Cake Ingredients: 
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt 
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp,cubed
1 cup strawberry puree made from 20 oz fresh strawberries
(see directions to follow for puree)

First, let's start with some fresh and ripe, juicy strawberries for the puree. Cut the "grass" off the tops, (as Stella would say) then "hull" those suckers. How do you hull a strawberry? I had no clue. So I googled it...
And wouldn't you know it? Easy as pie cake. There is a tool for this sort of thing, but I found that a straw works just fine. 
Punch a hole through the center and hollow it out. Then dice them up and toss and coat those babies with 2 tbs organic sugar. Cover and let them sit and marinate for as long as you can - at least an hour. In my case, I put them in the fridge and let them soak over night. (But that's just because I was tired and have two children under three. And I never sleep.)
Next, get your dry ingredients ready. Sift the flour into your mixing bowl and add in the baking powder and salt.
Cube your butter and toss it in with the dry ingredients. Blend for about a minute. The texture will be crumbly. Next, add in eggs and vanilla and mix slightly, being careful not to over mix flour.
Now back to the strawberries. *Side note - you don't have to let them marinate in the sugar for hours. But it does help and makes them super sweet. So does this method. Pay attention: Put them in a pot and bring to a soft boil. Then bring them down to low and simmer for no more than ten minutes. Don't overcook! Your house will smell divine and you will feel like a real master baker at this point.
Set aside and let them cool. Now this is the part in the original recipe that I changed; instead of straining the strawberries and reserving the liquid for the batter, I went ahead and blended the whole thing. You will end up with a liquid that looks like this:
Reserve 1 cup for the cake batter and some more for the frosting. (See butter cream frosting recipe below.) Pour the cup of strawberry puree into the mix and blend well. Confession: I wanted my cake to be super pink, so I added a tiny drop of red food coloring. (Which upon reflection, was totally unnecessary, but totally fine to do.)
Pour the batter into greased and floured cake tins and pop them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Yields two 8-9 inch layer cakes or 24 cupcakes.

Now for the frosting:

Strawberry buttercream frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbs whipping cream
(can use milk in a pinch)
approx 1/2 cup strawberry puree 
(to taste)
{adapted from Food Network}

Blend sugar and butter with whisk for a few minutes, adding in vanilla and cream next. Slowly stir in strawberry puree, a little at a time, checking consistency and strawberry flavor to taste. 

When cake has cooled, slather that baby with a ton of frosting. If you're making two rounds, layer frosting in between. I also used a bit of the leftover puree to put in the center, layered with the frosting as well. Top and decorate with more strawberries. Sooo good!
Now sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I promise, well worth the effort.