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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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Cabbage Soup Diet – Recap

Ah, the wedding is over and it was a great party. Wonderful celebration with family and friends. The bride was GORGEOUS! And I fit into my dress perfectly!

Day 6

Beef and Veggies day. As much beef (or chicken) and vegetables as you want along with the soup.

I was down 12 pounds the morning of day 6. Which was more than I wanted to lose, and (I think) an absurd amount of weight to lose in only 6 days. So, instead of following the diet plan, I had a huge container of chopped up fruit that I snacked on all morning, had a bowl of soup for lunch (which was the last bowl of my batch) and went to dinner and ate pollo asada, beans, chips and some grilled veggies for dinner. I didn’t drink, while out with the gals because I knew I’d be doing that the next day at the wedding, and drinking basically makes my self-control with food go out the window.

Day 7 – Wedding Day

I knew I was not going to follow the cabbage soup diet plan on this day. I didn’t even try. Was down exactly my goal of 10 pounds in the morning (actually, 10 1/2) when I weighed myself before our 7:30am hair and makeup appointment. The day was filled with wedding festivities. Photos, dresses, makeup, hairspray, high heels, music, dancing, food (the reception food was AH-MAZING), drinks and more dancing. It was a great day.

Recap

So, here are my thoughts on the whole cabbage soup diet thing. It works. You follow the eating plan (which I did…to the letter) and you WILL lose weight. I started at 147.8 pounds. By the morning of the 6th day I was down to 135.7. I have no idea what I would have lost the last two days if I’d continued on the plan. As it is, after a wedding day and night of frivolity (aka: drinking), dancing, and eating (including wedding cake at 11pm and a McDonalds stop on the way home), I was still down over 9 pounds.

However, this diet is not a long-term solution at all. I was so happy to eat real food yesterday. I overindulged.  In just about everything. Today, I’m having huge cravings for all my favorite “bad foods” and it’s taking lot of self-control not to continue pigging out. I can totally see how this diet might actually be counter productive in the long run since after a week of fruit and veggies along with cabbage soup, absolutely every single other food sounds like 5 star cuisine. I want to eat cheese and bread by the bucketful today. Instead, I went to the gym this morning and am eating a healthy, well-balanced lunch (the best sandwich ever!) and dinner. My toe is totally healed so it’s back to my normal routine of weight maintenance – working out (hard) and eating right. Another drawback of this diet is that after dropping so much weight so fast, doing it the right way is going to seem even harder than it was before.  Switching back to maintaining my weight or maybe losing a pound or so is going to seem so lame coming off dropping 10 pounds in a week. I will say though. My lunch today was the best, most amazing turkey sandwich I’ve ever had.

 

"Real" Food - Turkey Sanny, Raspberries/Apple, Pretzels

 

I can’t say that I would recommend this diet really. You absolutely should not workout at all when doing it and probably should take a multivitamin while on it as well. I actually tried to do a vitamin the first day, but there was so little food in my stomach that the vitamin hit it like a piece of lead and it made me feel nauseated. I’m sure that’s not a good sign. I do see why people get so excited about this diet though. I felt incredibly skinny yesterday. I felt great and there’s no other way I can think of – not even with workouts and a low-calorie eating plan – I could have lost 12 pounds in 6 days.  I’ll have to wait a few days of normal eating and workouts to see how much of the weight I put back on as my muscle mass builds back up. Then I’ll know if this is a good plan for “jump starting” a diet/exercise regime, or if it truly is only useful to lose weight quickly for a specific event…expecting to put the pounds back on as soon as you’re done with your cabbage soup.

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