Saturday, June 28, 2014

Confections of a Foodie Bride: Fresh Strawberry Cake

I used to ask for strawberry cake for my birthday every year.  The recipe my mom used was passed down from my grandmother, after all!  Well, that was until I realized that this "homemade cake" was a combination of a white cake mix, strawberry Jell-O, and frozen boxes of strawberries.  And my grandmother most certainly did not concoct the recipe for that neon pink cake.  I was a bit distraught until I came across a way to make a strawberry cake from scratch.  Novel concept, right?  It's not a bright neon pink, but it's still magically delicious.

Fresh Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride blog

For the strawberry puree:
24 ounces very ripe strawberries, hulled
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the cake:
¼ cup whole milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2¼ cup cake flour, sifted
1¾ cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks), at room temperature

For the frosting:
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar (about 3½ cups)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Rough chop the strawberries, lightly toss with the sugar, and let sit for an hour or so until nice and juicy. Add ¼ cup water and then simmer in a small sauce pan for 5-10 minutes, until the berries are soft.  Pour the warm mixture into a food processor, and process until smooth.  Pour the puree back into the sauce pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly, to thicken. This step should yield 2 cups puree. Cool puree until ready to make the cake batter.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare two 8- or 9-inch round pans: spray inside with baking spray with flour (or use some sort of grease/flour combination).  If making cupcakes, spray two 12-cup cupcake pans with baking spray with flour or use paper cups to line the pans.

In small bowl, combine ¾ cup of the strawberry puree and the milk, egg, and vanilla, and mix with a fork until well blended. In the bowl of stand mixer, add the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add softened butter. Mix until combined and the mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add the wet ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until evenly combined. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.

Note: The batter will not get any pinker in the oven so if you're disappointed in the color from your berries, maybe consider adding a drop or two of pink or red food coloring.

Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 20 minutes for 9-inch pans, 25 minutes for 8-inch pans, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let the cakes rest in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks. Let the cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).

For the frosting, mix the powdered sugar and butter together. Add some of the strawberry puree, a spoonful at a time, until the frosting reaches spreading consistency.  You will not use all of the remaining strawberry puree.

Makes one (8- or 9-inch) 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes

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