Fresh strawberry cake

It took a few birthdays of experimenting, but we’ve finally hit on a fresh strawberry cake that everyone loves. This is a mashup of Confections of a Foodie Bride‘s strawberry puree method with the ultimate vanilla cake from The Cupcake Project. The fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting really seals the deal.

Note that this cake uses the method used by master baker Rose Levy Beranbaum in The Cake Bible, in which butter is mixed with flour and dry ingredients first (instead of starting with butter with sugar). It may seem unorthodox, but it really works.

Cake ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups cake flour (or 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour plus 1/3 cup cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt, or buttermilk)
  • 1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup strawberry puree (see below)
  • 1/4 cup milk

Strawberry puree ingredients

  • 2 cups halved strawberries (about 2/3 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Strawberry frosting

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, more if necessary to thicken
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ cake pans or one 9″x13″ baking pan. (You could also make a half-sheet pan, which makes big, thinner cake good for kids’ birthday parties; or 3 8″ cake pans for a triple-layer; or about 24 cupcakes.)
  2. First make strawberry puree: in a food processor or blender, mix strawberries and sugar on high until well pureed (if you must, add a tablespoon of water to get it going, and stop to push strawberries down if blades are spinning without mixing). You should have 1 cup of puree; 3/4 cup is for the cake batter and 1/4 cup is for frosting.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Cut butter into cubes and add to bowl. Use mixer to blend butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like dry crumbs with no lumps of butter left.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (use a rubber spatula to make sure flour underneath gets fully combined).
  6. Add milk and strawberry puree and mix until just combined.
  7. Fill cake pan(s) and bake until center is no longer jiggly and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Check cupcakes at 14 minutes, thinner layers at 18 minutes. Thicker cakes may take 25-30 minutes. Cool before frosting.
  8. To make frosting, mix together softened cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar until fully blended in. Add strawberry puree and mix well. Frosting should be creamy but not runny. Add more powdered sugar to thicken if necessary.

Notes

  • A cooked puree will give you a more concentrated strawberry flavor and color, but it takes some time to cook and reduce down. Cook 2 pounds of strawberries, roughly chopped (about six cups berries) with two tablespoons sugar 15-20 minutes, until strawberries are very soft. Pour mixture through a fine strainer, pressing and scraping the mixture through the strainer with a spoon or spatula. Discard the strawberry pulp and return puree to stovetop, heating until reduced to 1 cup of liquid. Cool before using.
  • My cake never looks pink, partly because I use unbleached flour, and partly because this recipe uses whole eggs. A whiter cake will show more pink, so if you want it pinker you could use bleached flour and/or Confections of a Foodie Bride‘s cake recipe that uses egg whites only. You could also add a few drops of red food coloring; it doesn’t take much to make pink.
  • You could use frozen berries when fresh aren’t available, but you may need to cook them down to rid of excess moisture. I’ve also been tempted to use strawberry preserves, but generally preserves are more sugar than fruit, and it seems like more work to have to adjust down the sugar in the recipe to compensate.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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