Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A dreamy strawberry cake,
made completely from scratch

Dreamy it is, indeed.
   Strawberry Dream Cake (click for the recipe) from Cook’s Country magazine is a gorgeous, delicious dessert: Two layers of pillowy cake, covered with yummy strawberry-cream cheese frosting.
   And it’s made completely from scratch, which is apparently an anomaly, according to Cook’s Country. Most strawberry cakes use a mix and strawberry gelatin, the mag says.
   This cake, however, relies purely on frozen and fresh berries for its lovely taste, which reminded me of strawberry milkshakes.
   It’s a perfect cake for a summer birthday party, especially one for children.
   The recipe says to store the cake in the fridge, but let it return to room temperature before serving. I actually preferred the cake served directly from the fridge – the cool contributed an even more pleasant texture to the cake and frosting.
   Although the cake was a bit labour intensive, I didn’t find it hard to make. If you start in the morning, you’ll have a cake ready by afternoon, and much of that is cooling time for the cake.
   The recipe I linked to above is exactly the same as the one I used from Cook’s Country.
   Frozen strawberries are microwaved until they have released their juice, and are then placed in a fine-mesh strainer set over a small saucepan. The fruit is pressed firmly until nearly all the liquid has drained into the saucepan. But don’t throw the strawberries away – they’re needed for the frosting.
   The strawberry juice is brought to a boil over medium-high heat and cooked until syrupy and reduced to half a cup – I found this took about seven minutes, exactly in the 6-8 minute range listed in the recipe. Whole milk is whisked into the juice.
   The resulting strawberry milk, room-temperature egg whites and vanilla are combined in a medium bowl.
   Flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt are combined in a large bowl. The recipe says to use a stand mixer, to combine them, but I used a hand mixer.
   Twelve tablespoons of softened unsalted butter are added to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, then the strawberry milk mixture is added in two additions.
   The batter is scraped into two nine-inch cake pans and baked for about 20 to 25 minutes.
   The cakes are cooled in pans for 10 minutes, then removed from the pans and left to cool completely, at least two hours.
   The frosting is made by combining butter and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Pieces of softened cream cheese are added, one piece at a time, until incorporated.
   The reserved strawberry solids from the first part of the recipe are added, along with salt, and are mixed in until to combine.
   The frosting can be refrigerated until ready to use.
   Frosting is spread over one cake round, then topped with hulled, sliced strawberries and more frosting. The second cake round is placed on top, and the remaining frosting in spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake. The top is garnished with more strawberries.

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