Saturday, May 9, 2009

Naomi's 30th Birthday Cake Confection

Naomi’s 30th birthday was coming up and her husband said she’d really enjoy either a strawberry cake or chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. I started pouring over recipes in my binder, online, and asking for recommendations. There are SO many recipes out there, so I wanted to make sure she got exactly what she wanted- when else is there a day that’s just all about you? After providing her with a list of strawberry and chocolate cake options, Naomi decided that she wanted a strawberry cake with a strawberry cream filling with strawberry whipped topping (noticing a trend?).

From-scratch strawberry cake recipes were really difficult to find- I found many that included cake mix, strawberry jello gelatin, and/or strawberry extract- but I was determined to bake something from scratch. After reading through numerous recipes, I found the cake base, cream filling, and whipped frosting (from 2 difference sources, of course!) that sounded delicious and promising. Hope they turn out as good as the pictures looked!

Strawberry Cake
3/4 cup strawberry puree*, room temperature
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cup cake flour
1-3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare (2) 8-inch pans (I used two 9" cake pans). Line outside with heavy-duty foil and spray interior of pans with baking spray with flour. Lining with foil helps to ensure even rising and to prevent over-baking.

2. In a small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, and vanilla. Mix with fork until well blended.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
4. While beating on low speed, add the softened butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
5. Add strawberry mixture and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until fully and evenly combined.
6. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.
7. Divide the batter evenly amongst the 2 pans and smooth the tops. This step is important to ensure your cake layers are equal in height and smoothing the tops give you have a flat surface to work with.

8. Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I baked for 30 minutes.)

9. Let cakes rest in pan for approx. 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire racks.
10. Let cakes cool completely (approx. 2 hours).

Strawberry Puree
a) Frozen strawberries, thawed- Place thawed strawberries into a fine-mesh sieve (over a bowl) and allow it to sit to let out excess liquid. Sit at room temperature for approx. 30 minutes. Discard liquid. Place drained strawberries into a food processor and puree.
b) Fresh strawberries- Slice fresh strawberries, add a few teaspoonfuls of sugar over top, and cover. Let it sit at room temperature for several hours until it gets juicy. Drain strawberries. Place drained strawberries into a food processor and puree.

16-oz (1 lb) of frozen strawberries, pureed = 1-1/2 cups strawberry puree

Source: Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride (originally found on Good Things Catered)

Strawberry Cream Filling and Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp kirsch (I used vanilla extract)
2 cups heavy cream (1 pint)
2 tsp powdered sugar (I used 10 tsp)
3 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into slices, plus 12 strawberries halved length-wise for garnish

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let the sugar syrup cool to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in the kirsch.
2. Brush one cake with about half of the syrup.
3. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks.
4. In a large bowl, place the sliced strawberries. Fold approx. 1/4 of the whipped cream into the berries. Spread the mixture evenly on top of the cake (that you just brushed with the sugar syrup).

5. Position the remaining cake layer on top. Brush with the remaining syrup.

6. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.
7. Thinly slice 1 strawberry half and place it in the center of the cake. Arrange the remaining halves around the edge of the cake.
11. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Williams-Sonoma

Comments & Tips: I thought the cake and filling, separately, were good. But together? It wasn't the right combination. Here are my comments and suggestions for this recipe:
- Cake: The cake recipe was good. I really enjoyed making it from scratch. However, the cake layers were thick, and next time, I'd use a heavier frosting such as vanilla or chocolate buttercream filling instead. (The whipped cream frosting was too light for such a thick, heavier weighted cake.) Even with a buttercream frosting, I felt the cake layers were somewhat thick- maybe I will cut the layer down a bit next time?
- Make sure to evenly divide the cake batter between the cake pans. In reviewing the picture in Step #5, you can see the bottom cake is taller (and thus had more cake batter) than the top cake layer.
- When placing the top cake layer, invert the cake upside down so you have a flat surface to work the frosting with.
- Filling & Frosting: I really enjoy simple whipped cream frosting. The filling/frosting recipe was very good, but would have been better with a lighter cake... possibly a genoise cake next time?
- Needed to double the whipped cream filling/frosting recipe.
- Naomi seemed really happy and was enjoying the cake- so if the Birthday Girl was happy, my mission was accomplished. The End.


Naomi said...

Thank you so much for this truly fabulous cake! The cake was the perfect amount of strawberries and yumminess! LOL! :)

Joelen said...

Great job and this looks wonderful!

Jennifer said...

It was awesome! Naomi pointed me to your blog today. Can't wait to try some of your recipes.

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