Everyone in Louisiana loves strawberries.
And it’s no surprise this time of year–they’re everywhere. With the Ponchatoula Strawberry festival–a free annual fundraiser for charitable organizations–taking place last month, strawberries are popping up everywhere and I find my brain buzzing from the endless recipe options out there.
Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Crepes with Nutella, Strawberry French Toast, Strawberry Scones, Strawberry Parfaits, Strawberry Muffins, Strawberry Almond Tarts, and the best? Just Strawberries by themselves.
Something about the Louisiana heat makes strawberries sweeter, brighter, redder, and yes, better. Better than the strawberries I’ve had anywhere else.
In a sense, I guess you can have greener grass (albeit in the form of redder strawberries) in some parts of the country.
Several weeks ago, when the strawberries first started rearing their heads at my local produce market, I found myself dreaming of making flaming strawberries like the ones at Sprinkle Bakes and concocting a dessert item that wasn’t just shortcake.
Luckily, my friend Andrew celebrated his 24th birthday this year, just in time for me to experiment with a strawberry cake.
I used 2 quarts fresh strawberries to get the light pink hues and fruity flavor of the cake itself. Needless to say, Andrew was delighted and surprised by my fruit-inspired confection.
After the candles were blown out, and the stems licked clean, we dove into this unbelievably (clearly) delicious cake–it tasted like summer, smelled like our childhoods, and filled up our stomachs so much that the tables near us at Serrano’s looked on with baited breath.
Smiling, happy, another year older, Andrew asked me, “How did you know I loved strawberries? Did someone tell you?”
That’s easy Andrew, EVERYONE loves strawberries.
Strawberry Cake w/Strawberry Frosting
This recipe is a culinary discovery of sorts. It’s incredibly hard to find a recipe for Strawberry Cake. Most home cooks rely on baking mixes with freeze-dried strawberries and artificial flavors, but my recipe uses fresh strawberries and is as easy as those box mixes. You’ll never use store bought strawberry cake mixes ever again!
* 2 3/4 cups Cake Flour
* 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
* 2 1/2-2 3/4 Cup Sugar (to taste, some strawberries are so sweet you’ll need less sugar)
* 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
* 8 egg whites
* 1/2 cup milk (can use skim, but whole goes best here)
* 2 quarts Fresh Louisiana Strawberries (will yield about 2 cups Fresh Strawberry Purée, half for the cake and half for the icing)
* 4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
* 3 sticks butter, room temperature
* 1/4-1/2 cup reserved Fresh Strawberry Purée, can use more if frosting is too thick or dry
1.) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 baking sheets and set aside. Wash 2 quarts fresh Louisiana strawberries, de-stem, and add to a food processor. Using the blade attachment, process strawberries until you yield 2 cups fresh strawberry purée.
2.) Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk: cake flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4.) Using a standing mixer and paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix to integrate.
5.) Slowly add egg whites to mixture using the lowest speed; scrape down sides of the bowl after each addition.
6.) In another bowl, combine 1 cup strawberry purée with 1/2 cup milk. Gradually add dry ingredients to standing mixture and alternate with strawberry mixture until both the dry ingredients and the strawberry mixture have been combined with the batter. Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix one last time.
7.) Pour 1/3 of batter into 3 greased 9-inch cake pans, or 1/2 mixture into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans.
8.) Bake for 25-30 minutes per layer (it will be longer if you’re going with 2 layers, such as 35-40 minutes). Remove cake from oven when golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to rest in their pans for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack (you don’t want the cakes to sit in the pan too long as they’ll both continue to bake and potentially get soggy on bottom because of built-up condensation).
9.) Allow cakes to cool completely. Meanwhile, cream together butter and confectioner’s sugar in a standing mixer. Add strawberry purée until you have the right consistency (this step is based on personal preference) and the frosting is as sweet and strawberry-like as you prefer.
10.) Construct Cake: plate bottom layer of cake on a serving dish and frost. My frosting technique is to add a big lump of frosting and smooth evenly. Cakes are highly prone to crumbling, so if you start off with a lot of frosting, you’re less likely to upset the cake and get those nasty crumbs in your buttercream surface. Plus, you can always scrape off excess frosting easily.
11.) Add second layer of cake and repeat. Add third layer of cake and repeat.
12.) Finally, frost the tops and sides of the cake making sure to use enough frosting all the way around and on top so that you don’t run into the “crumbs in frosting” problem many at home cooks do.
13.) Decorate cake. For this particular occasion, I went with more fresh strawberries quartered on the sides and top.
Enjoy! Makes 12 servings.
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Written by: Helana Brigman