Monday, March 28, 2016

Adventures in Baking

That title sums up my fun in the kitchen fairly well. This cake is a case in point, and perhaps the beginning of a longer search for just the right cake.

Have you seen the pictures all over the net of cakes decorated with huge swirls of roses? They are nothing short of drool worthy. Somehow I got it into my head that I would decorate our Easter cake that way. Hmm, a strawberry cake with roses—perfect for Easter.

As I searched recipes, I found that a lot of people make strawberry cakes with strawberry gelatin. I now know why. It's difficult to get a strong strawberry flavor in the cake. The gelatin would impart flavor and provide the pink color.

Now, frankly, I don't care if the cake is pink as long as it tastes good. This recipe has a very mild strawberry flavor. It's there, but it's delicate. The cake itself is good, but I think there's room for improvement.

The frosting is a story unto itself. The good news is that it's incredibly easy to do. It's a show stopper, even if it's not perfect!

The bad news is that it requires vats of frosting. I honestly thought two or three batches of frosting would be adequate. I made four batches before I ran out of powdered sugar and just went with what I had. The cake in the photo (sit down before you read this) contains one entire pound of butter! And it still wasn't enough to cover the cake with roses!

If you're planning to try the rose frosting, stock up on butter and powdered sugar. The frosting has to be stiff enough to hold its shape well. If you're going to serve this someplace hot, like at an outdoor party in the afternoon, be sure you use a frosting that can hold up to the heat, not the simple buttercream I used!

In spite of the fact that I ran out of frosting on the top, it still wowed the Easter guests (yay!), so don't be afraid to try it. All you need is a 1M piping tip. It's a very large tip and is readily available from Wilton at WalMart in a set of thee for just under three dollars. While you're there, pick up a box of disposable decorating bags. I love just throwing them out when I'm through. I often skip a crumb coat on cakes, but it's a necessity with the roses because there will be tiny spaces between the roses.

It's very simple to make the roses. They do require a bit of an eye for spacing. But don't let that stop you because it's fun to do! Prepare to see another rose cake here in the future!

Strawberry Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces of ripe strawberries (plus about 6 ounces more for middle)
4 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans.

Mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Puree in a food processor. Measure 3/4 cup strawberry puree and save the rest for something else. Place the 3/4 cup strawberry puree in the food processor again. Add the four eggs and process until well mixed. Add the milk and vanilla and process until smooth.

Cream the butter with the sugar. Alternate adding the strawberry mixture and the flour until mixed together. Pour into prepared cake pans.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool. Flip out of the pans after five minutes or so and allow to cool entirely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
(Note that I made four batches and that was inadequate for a two layer 8-inch cake. If using the rose decoration, plan on at least 6 batches of the recipe below. I made them as I went so that the frosting didn't get too soft as I worked.)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

6 ounces strawberries for filling

Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut in half or in slices. Set aside.

Beat the butter well. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat to combine. Beat another minute or so until creamy.

Frost the bottom layer of the cake with a crumb coat on the top and sides. Place the strawberries on the top, covering the cake. Place the top layer over them and cover the top and sides with a crumb coat, making sure to cover the middle where the strawberries are located.

Fit a frosting bag with a 1M piping tip. Fill with frosting. To begin a rose, press a "star" in the center and slowly pipe around it in a circle about two times. Make the next rose. Continue until the sides and top of the cake are covered with the roses. Fill in any gaps with a little swirl of frosting.

Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
Puree the strawberries and pulse with the eggs.

Add milk and vanilla.
Cream butter with sugar and add the strawberries and flour.
Pour into pans and bake.
Cover first layer with a crumb coat.
Cover with strawberries.
Add top layer and frost.
The Easter Bunny brought this adorable Baron chalk board!


  1. If vats are needed, I think I will just pop over to your house Krista and have a piece with you. it is a showstopper though!

  2. There is no such thing as too much frosting. (My grandmother would agree.) This is gorgeous.

  3. Come on over, Lucy! There's plenty left. It's a big cake!

    Thank you, Sheila. This cake certainly satisfies the frosting lovers!

  4. Wow! Now that is truly a showstopper!
    Well done!
    But we need a video tutorial on those roses.

  5. You are a far braver woman than I!

    What if you only covered the top in roses, and did the sides in regular frosting? The cake would still be gorgeous, and you wouldn't need so many vats of butter.

    We had butter and cream-heavy Easter meals, too -- we joked that we're keeping the local dairy cows employed!

  6. A beautiful cake, Krista! And I'm going to have to try your fresh strawberry recipe since I've never been a fan of strawberry jello cakes :)

  7. Now that's what I call a cake!

  8. Love the cake. But have you tried strawberry flavoring or strawberry syrup? Love using fresh fruit as a filler. Makes it so much tastier With all the frosting the fresh fruit filling eases the conscience a bit.

  9. Your cake is beautiful. I've been trying to find a cake without jello that was strawberry. I did the Cooks Country version and the taste was there, but the texture of the cake wasn't right. I need to experiment more.

  10. Your cake is gorgeous -- and can you really use too much butter? I think not!

  11. Smashing, Krista! What a beautiful creation. I'll be dreaming about it for a week!



  12. America's Test Kitchen did a really yummy looking strawberry cake. You will have to look that one up next time you try. Also, I love the roses, and wanted to try it myself.

  13. The cake is fabulous! I can't imagine all the effort you put into making the roses. I think I will stop by and see if there is any pieces of cake left.