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Strawberry Dream Cake

I can honestly tell you that this recipe was a present for me. From God. No joke. Let me explain. Some lovely people I know just got married. A few days before the wedding I agreed to help out by making a giant cupcake for them to cut into for the smash-cake-in-your-face moment at the wedding. The bride wanted a strawberry cake, but every single recipe I could find used strawberry flavored Jello in it. I’m sure the Jello cakes would have been fine, but the color just seemed too fakey pink given that the bottom of the cake wasn’t going to be frosted.

I searched for several hours and couldn’t find anything that looked good enough for me to use. Frustrated, I went to bed. The next morning in my Twitter feed was a post from America’s Test Kitchen that said “Yes, strawberry cake without Jello is possible with our Strawberry Dream Cake”. (pick my jaw up off the floor) Are you kidding me? I made the recipe that day as a test. It was very good, but a little denser than I wanted. I decided I could make life a lot easier on myself by bumping up the strawberry portion and using a white boxed cake mix as the base. The result was a light deliciously strawberry cake that took only a little more effort than a basic boxed mix.  I’ve included both recipes for you. The resulting color is very pale pink and lovely. Since I was taking this to a wedding, you only get photos of the outside.

The cake mix variety I turned into cupcakes to taste test before the wedding and thought I’d share a very important tip with you. Do not frost cupcakes when they are still warm. Do. Not. Do. Not! It does not matter how good you are at frosting techniques, you will fail if the cupcakes are even a little bit still warm. Blame it on the delicious smell, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to try them! I used a new crusting buttercream frosting, added the pressed out strawberry solids from the cake instead of the water called for & adjusted with powdered sugar to get the right consistency. It tasted like strawberry ice cream. Delicious. You can just add the pressed strawberry solids to your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting. Pat them dry first though, moisture and frosting don’t go well together. Warm cupcakes and frosting don’t go together either. See?

Strawberry Dream Cake
a Bakerlady Original

1 box of white (or vanilla, french vanilla) cake mix
3 cups frozen whole strawberries
eggs & oil called for on back of boxed mix
1/2 cup of whole milk

1. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 1 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
2. Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Substitute milk and strawberry mixture for water called for. The boxed mix I used called for 1 cup of water. So I used 1/2 cup strawberry puree and 1/2 cup of milk. Adjust these amounts based on your box mix directions. Bake according to box directions and size of pan you’re using.
3. Top with your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting – add the reserved strawberry solids after patting them dry for an extra burst of strawberry.

Strawberry Dream Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 10 ounces frozen whole strawberries (2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Instructions

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.
2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
3. Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
4. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

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Freckled Cosmo

I found a new offering from Ocean Spray in the juice aisle the other day and decided immediately that I needed to make a cocktail out of it. The reason I was so drawn to white cranberry & strawberry juice can only be explained by my strong resemblance to the beverage. White cranberries have a pale pinkish hue. Fairer than their deep red cousins and strawberries are freckled. Pale & freckles? Yup. That’s me. Except white cranberries are sweeter than regular ones. I guess the resemblance had to end somewhere.

I decided to tweak my standard cosmopolitan recipe just a bit to create a freckled version that tastes kind of like a grown up strawberry lemonade – with a tart(ish) cranberry kick. And no lemon. But it has that summery kind of vibe to it. Delicious! If you can’t find the white cran/strawberry juice just use regular cranberry juice and muddle a couple of strawberries in when you shake it up. You won’t get the pretty light pink, but the flavor will be close.

Freckled Cosmo
a Bakerlady original
makes 2 cocktails

4 ounces vodka
2 ounces Cointreau (you can also use triple sec)
The juice of one lime (about 1 1/2 oz)
4 ounces white cranberry/strawberry juice
Fresh strawberries (optional)

Combine all ingredients (including the rinds of the lime after juicing) in a large shaker filled 3/4 the way with ice. Shake vigorously about 30 times. Pour into chilled martini glasses and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Scratch Cake Mixes & Strawberry Cream

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m taking a cake decorating class. I’m enjoying it tremendously and learning all sorts of fun things. Don’t judge my decorating skills too harshly, I’m still learning. I found this cake mix recipe years ago and it has never failed me. Perfect if you don’t want to make a boxed cake mix, or thought you had one in the cupboard but (horrors!) you’ve used your last one! This recipe gives you the perfectly light texture of a boxed mix with homemade ingredients and taste.

For my recent class, I filled a basic yellow cake with some strawberry mascarpone cream. It was absolutely delicious.

I just used one of the 8 inch rounds the recipe makes. I torted it (still learning the art of doing that evenly too!) and stuffed it with sweet creamy strawberry deliciousness. The other cake went in my freezer to use for another class.

I have tried all these cake mix varieties and they are simply delightful. Enjoy!

Scratch Cake Mixes
from Allrecipes.com

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For a Yellow Cake: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening until fine crumbs are formed. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat at low speed for 1 minute, then high for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9×13 inch pan (or the cake pan of your choice). Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.
Variation for a White Cake: Prepare as for the basic cake except use 3 egg whites for the 2 whole eggs. Whites may be beaten separately and added for a lighter cake.
Variation for a Chocolate Cake: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the basic cake mix prior to adding the milk.
Variation for a Spice Cake: Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice to the basic cake mix.

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2/3 cup Mascarpone Cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Directions

Place the heavy whipping cream, mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and strawberry jam in a large bowl.  Whip until soft peaks form.

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