Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Celebration Cake

I made this cake for Rach's April Baking Challenge. The theme for this month is Spring! When I think of Spring, I think of warmer weather, pastel colors, and new growth. It also makes me think of my sister because I make this cake for her every year on her birthday. This cake officially marks the start of spring for me.

This strawberry cake comes out of my favorite cookbook: Favorite Recipes For Our Friends. My grandmother gave me this cookbook over 10 years ago. It may have been the only cookbook she owned and she got it from The First National Bank in my hometown back in 1975! In the book are recipes contributed from the towns people for a community fundraiser. I have made several recipes from this book including my all time favorite- Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake (Yoohoo! Food Librarian, this one is for you!)

I have adapted this recipe from the original by cutting down the amount of oil and upping the strawberry factor. Some may turn their nose up to the fact that it has strawberry jello in it that gives it it's color and adds flavor, but it's perfect everytime, and I'm okay with that. Over the years I have made this cake in may forms- loaf pans, in cupcakes, with and without frosting, making homemade cream cheese frosting and with the canned stuff. This by far is my favorite way. Whatever frosting you choose, be sure to add freshly sliced strawberries on the top in a concentric pattern and jaws will drop. This cake is extremely moist, flavorful, and easy and everyone always comments on how beautiful it is.

This would be perfect for Mother's Day. I hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Cake adapted from Favorite Recipes
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 small box strawberry Jello
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, dissolve Jello in hot water. Set aside and let cool while mixing the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, oil, eggs, and thawed strawberries. Thoroughly mix in the gelatin mixture. Pour into 2 9-inch cake pans and bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely in pans before inverting onto a cooling rack or cake platter. Cover in frosting of your choice.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Meringue Buttercream from Cafe Johnsonia

  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Chill until cold.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Turn mixer on medium speed until egg whites are foamy. While the mixer is running start preparing the sugar syrup.

In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and water. Bring to a boil and let cook, without stirring, until it reaches 235 degrees (sea level) or 230 degrees (high altitude) on a candy thermometer. At this point, turn the mixer on high and beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry.

Continue to cook the syrup until the syrup reaches 240 degrees (sea level) or 234 degrees (high altitude)** (see NOTE). Remove it from heat and carefully pour the syrup against the side of the bowl into the egg whites while the mixer is still running. Continue beating on high for 3-5 minutes, or until steam stops rising from the mixing bowl.

Turn the mixer down a bit and add the chilled butter and cream cheese mixture a spoonful at a time. Don't worry if it becomes curdled. Just keep beating it and it will come back together. When all the butter/cream cheese has been added, add the extracts, beat well again. Then add the strawberry puree. It will separate a bit--keep beating and it will come back together.

Use it immediately, or keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 or 3 days. It will also freeze well for about a month or so.

Arrange sliced strawberries on top of the cake, starting from the outside and working your way in. Place a whole strawberry in the center.

**NOTE: I live at sea level and cooked my sugar syrup til it reached 240 degrees F. It continued to heat in the pan even after I took it off the flame and crept up several degrees, reaching the Hard Ball Stage. I added it to the egg whites and the sugar syrup turned stringy and clung to the side of my bowl. I continued to whip it and it had chunks of sugar in it. I dumped it and had to start over :-( The second time around, I heated the sugar syrup to just over 230 degrees F (sea level) and it rose up to 240F off the flame and it was perfect. Keep this in mind when making this so you don't overcook your syrup.

Visit Rachel to see her Spring creation!

36 comments:

Selba said...

This is really a beautiful strawberry cake, perfect for the spring celebration :)

Donna-FFW said...

Absolutely gorgeous cake Monica. I love the layers, the cream cheese, it looks so beautiful. You always amaze me!!

Zoe Francois said...

Gorgeous cake!!!

Dawn said...

that is absolutely stunning my dear.
I need to get a mixer (yes, I do not have a mixer, I still do everything by hand) so I can do more cakes.
Really nice job arranging the strawberries on top.

Treehouse Chef said...

OMGness! This cake is gorgeous!!! I am going to try to make it, but I am a bit scared that it won't turn out as beautiful! Love you blog!!!! Photos and recipes are outstanding!

rachescakes said...

Very beautiful! The strawberries look perfect.

Cafe Johnsonia said...

This made me so happy to see when I opened up my reader this morning! I'm so flattered you used my recipe. :)

It looks spectacular. The strawberries on top...WOW.

Shauna said...

omg - i think i'm going to make this for my mom on mothers day - thanks for posting it.

Mermaid Sweets said...

Wowzers, this is amazing. It sounds delish and the strawberry arrangement is stunning.

Sara said...

How beautiful! I love strawberry cake, but haven't found a great recipe for it yet. I need to try this!

Maria said...

Your cake is amazing! I just love it!! The berries are the perfect topper!

Ingrid said...

My mouth hung open the whole time I read your post and drooled over the photos. Seriously I know a lot of people say that but my mouth was watering as I scrolled through your photos are few times.

You did an A-Mazing job on the strawberry "flower",WOW!
~ingrid

Lauren said...

That cake is so beautiful! It looks so delicious too!

Hennifer said...

Beautiful and yummy sounding!

Look at you with the fancy edging. Love it!

Juliana said...

WOW! This strawberry cake looks delicious...love how you decorated.

Kristen said...

That's the prettiest cake I've seen in a long time!

Kerstin said...

I love the way you arranged the strawberries on top, it's such a beautiful cake!

The Food Librarian said...

Love the shout out! LOL! This looks lovely!!! Love the way you decorated the cake too!

Coleen's Recipes said...

I can't wait to make this at our next family gathering!!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I'm sooo behind in reading recipes. This cake is stunning. I'm an "okay" cake baker, but I don't have the artistic knack for making something as gorgeous as yours. I will try... your directions were good, so I will definitely try making this type of frosting. I'll be a virgin at this.

Can I have a piece?

Debby

Delectable Dining said...

This cake is so beautiful! It's way too pretty to cut into!

I left an award for you on my blog. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

www.delectabledining09.blogspot.com

Coleen's Recipes said...

I am curious about your "cake slice" blog. Do you mind if I ask what it is and why it is restricted ?

Jenn said...

That's beautiful!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Lovely cake! You have a lucky sister! I love the way the strawberries fan out. Just beautiful.

Lissaloo said...

Beautiful!!!! I have an award for you on my blog :)

Simple Simon said...

How absolutely lovely!

Sophie said...

You have a lucky sister-that cake looks so good. Yay for upping the strawberries :), they are my favorite berries next to the blue ones :D. Does that cookbook have neat photos? I'm fascinated by old cookbooks! :)

Monica H said...

Sophie- I'm a completely visual person and I like pictures in cookbooks. In fact it's usually a deal breaker for me if there aren't photos to accompany the recipes. That being said, there are absolutely NO pictures in this book. And most of the recipes say "mix together and bake at 350 degrees til brown" No detailed instructions whatsoever, but I still love it1

Elissa said...

Wow! What great decorations with the berries!

Ingrid said...

Hey, Monica. I was wondering the next time you make a strawberry "flower" how about giving a tutorial? Pretty please? :)Just a thought.......
~ingrid

Anna said...

Wow. This cake is stunning. What a beautiful presentation.

symphonious sweets said...

Stunning, absolutely stunning! And strawberries are in season!

Gillian aka Silly Gilly said...

Your cake looks soooo gorgeous! I just baked mine and it didn't rise at all!! I wonder what went wrong....

Tia said...

that is spectacular looking!

Kristen said...

This is such a gorgeous cake! I love your design on the top! I'm definitely going to try that!

becky v said...

I just found your site and I'm in love. This cake is BEAUTIFUL!!!! I am trying to come up with any gathering I can make this for. Can't wait to try it! And I can't wait to scour your whole blog...GREAT recipes.

www.preparingforpeanut.com

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