Thursday’s Dish: Birthday Cake, Part II

I recently had one of those food experiences that transports you back to childhood. Hey Cupcake was nice enough to donate some cupcakes to the Austin Bloggin’ Mama Social, and when I bit into a Sweetberry cupcake, I was back in my mother’s kitchen circa 1975, tasting the icing that would go on my birthday cake. And, boy, was it good!

My mom made me a strawberry cake almost every year. She got the recipe from my grandma, who probably got it from a box of Jell-O or a friend at church because it’s the ubiquitous strawberry Jell-O/white cake mix recipe. But it’s hard to beat. In fact, I’ve tried to beat it by making it from scratch, but I’ve found that there’s no substitute for that package of Jell-O. Nothing gives it that particular tart-sweetness that makes the cake what it is. So, what you have below are two recipes. One for the original cake and icing with all the shortcuts intact, and one for a fussier, from-scratch version with cream cheese frosting (closer to the Hey Cupcake version). Both are extremely good and perfect for a summer birthday.

If you want to go all out, thinly slice fresh strawberries and arrange them on top of the cake just before serving. You can also put them in between the cake layers, but be sure and frost the top and bottom of each layer or the strawberries will make the cake soggy.

Strawberry Birthday Cake
1 package white cake mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 small package strawberry Jell-O

Sift cake mix and Jell-O into bowl. Blend in oil and 4 eggs, one at a time. Add berries and beat until mixed. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Icing
1 box powdered sugar
1/3 cup thawed strawberries
1 stick margarine

Blend all ingredients well and spread on cooled cake.

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry Jell-OAdvertisement4 eggs, separated (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (or spray with Baker’s Joy). In large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and Jello-O until light and fluffy. Add in egg yolks one at a time.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In separate bowl, measure flour AFTER sifting by lightly spooning into a measuring cup and leveling with the back of a butter knife. Combine flour with baking powder and salt. Stir this mixture into batter, alternating with milk. Stir in vanilla and strawberry puree. Gently fold in egg whites. Divide batter between the prepared pans.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from fresh strawberries
3 1/2 -4 cups powdered sugar

Using a mixer, cream butter and cream cheese. Mix in the strawberries. Slowly add 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar. If the consistency is too loose, add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

Written by: Shannon Oelrich

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