Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Pound Strawberry Cake!

I've never made a strawberry cake before, so I figured the first go is only proper if from scratch and with real strawberries! The few searches online mostly yielded recipes using a white cake box mix, and I finally stumbled upon one that was worthwhile.

Luckily, Costco had 2 lb containers of strawberries in a somewhat off-season? Thank you, Costco!

To process the strawberries so that they wouldn't be completely watery, and therefore ruin the recipe, I first cut off the tops of the strawberries and then squished them through an egg slicer. From there they went into a food processor and were pulsed until they were processed just right without a bunch of strawberry juice in the bottom.

One of the comments in the reviews for the recipe noted separating the egg yolks and the egg whites, decreased sugar, and increased the baking powder to yield a more fluffy cake. It all sounded good to me, so that's exactly what I did. Mixed the yolks with two tbsps of water, added the mixture with the butter/sugar/vanilla bowl. Once you got to mixing the flour bowl, sugar bowl, and strawberry puree, the batter became very thick. The final bit was to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and then fold it into the batter. This seemed to lighten it up as far as mixing goes. In two 8 inch rounds, I set the timer for 20 minutes and babysat it after that. It smelled nice as it was baking, but we'll have to see how the cake fares later.

The frosting was another experiment of sorts. Cream cheese frosting seems to be the favorite as of late, so since I still had an abundance of strawberries left from my 2 lb Costco buy, I figured why not? Used the same technique with the squishing of strawberries with the egg slicer and then threw it into the food processor. This time I was paranoid about extra moisture/strawberry juice, but I didn't want my frosting to be chunky. So I pureed it almost to a pulp, then strained the liquid out. This seemed to work very well.

My mistake while making the frosting is a simple one. Let your cream cheese and butter soften all the way!! Otherwise you'll end up with chunks of cream cheese and it's very hard for them to be worked out afterwards. I never really knew, cared, or understood this until a few years ago. Seeing the curds in my frosting today reminded me of my early cheesecakes where it was very curdy and I thought I was just a horrible cheesecake baker. Turns out I was just impatient! :) So, while there are a few chunks in the frosting, the strawberries did well in masking it, at least I hope so!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8oz boxes of cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup processed/strained strawberries
Powdered sugar to your liking - I think mine today was roughly 2 1/2 cups?

Take out cream cheese and butter and leave out on counter to soften. This is very important!
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together cream cheese and butter.
Add strawberries.
Start adding powdered sugar, slowly, to liking.

Frosts a 2 layer 8 inch cake, plus some to spare!

After the cake and the frosting was made, I still had some strawberries left over. My original vision was to egg slice the strawberries and put them in between the layers. I decided against this, and ended up halving the remaining strawberries and decorating the cake with them.

We'll see if this cake makes the fingers are crossed! With two pounds of strawberries in it, how could it be wrong?

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