Friday, June 10, 2011

Pretty in Pink Cake with Strawberry Curd Filling and Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Tis the season for strawberries!  

My Strawberry

O marvel, fruit of fruits, I pause
To reckon thee. I ask what cause
Set free so much of red from heats
At core of earth, and mixed such sweets
With sour and spice: what was that strength
Which out of darkness, length by length,
Spun all thy shining thread of vine,
Netting the fields in bond as thine.
I see thy tendrils drink by sips
From grass and clover's smiling lips;
I hear thy roots dig down for wells,
Tapping the meadow's hidden cells.
Whole generations of green things,
Descended from long lines of springs,
I see make room for thee to bide
A quiet comrade by their side;
I see the creeping peoples go
Mysterious journeys to and fro,
Treading to right and left of thee,
Doing thee homage wonderingly.
I see the wild bees as they fare,
Thy cups of honey drink, but spare.
I mark thee bathe and bathe again
In sweet unclaendared spring rain.
I watch how all May has of sun
Makes haste to have thy ripeness done,
While all her nights let dews escape
To set and cool thy perfect shape.
Ah, fruit of fruits, no more I pause
To dream and seek thy hidden laws!
I stretch my hand and dare to taste,
In instant of delicious waste
On single feast, all things that went
To make the empire thou hast spent.
~Helen Hunt Jackson~

I made this cake a few days ago and everyone really liked it.  The texture of the cake reminds me of that of Italian Creme Cake...moist and somewhat dense.  The strawberry curd in the center is a little tangy and pairs so well with the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting.  Really yummy!

Pretty in Pink Strawberry Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp (appx) vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
5 egg whites, beaten until stiff (save three of the yolks)
Strawberry Curd (recipe follows)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing (recipe follows)

Grease and flour 3 (8 inch) round cake pans.   I used two 9" square pans this time.

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until blended.  Add flour, baking powder and salt and buttermilk.  (It is less messy to alternate between the dry and wet ingredients). Fold in egg whites.  Divide batter among the cake pans and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.    Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes and then remove and finish cooling on wire racks.

Trev helped me make the cake, mostly by licking the pans clean, but he did mix the batter as well.  These are rare photos of him NOT wearing a Boise State t-shirt...
 but still being his normal, weird self...which he swears is all my fault! He told me day before yesterday, and I quote, "I have the coolest, nicest, but weirdest Mom in the world".  Two out of three isn't that bad. I can live with that!  Besides, I don't really mind being weird, and obviously, neither does he.

Ok, back to baking we go.
Now that you've put your cakes in the oven you'll want to prepare the strawberry curd, so here goes:

Strawberry Curd (this is wonderful served on scones, english muffins or shortbread cookies)

1 16 ounce container frozen sliced strawberries in syrup (I partially thawed mine and drained them about 1/2 the liquid away.  If you don't drain the liquid, use a little more cornstarch)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best but Realemon also works well)
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon strawberry extract (real or imitation will do)

Process strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Set about 1/2 cup of the puree aside for the frosting.
Pour the remaining puree into a saucepan along with the sugar and cornstarch, lemon juice and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat until thick.  Whisk constantly so that the bottom does not burn.  It should take about 6-8 minutes to thicken.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Because I made a two layer cake I used all of the curd between the two layers.  If you're making a three layer cake you'll of course want to divide the curd into two batches so you've got enough to spread between the cake layers.

Canned Strawberry Curd makes a nice gift!  It keeps in the fridge  for about 3 weeks.

And the icing on the cake....

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup strawberry puree (reserved from the curd)
1 tsp strawberry extract (you can use real or imitation)
about 5-6 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter, cream cheese, strawberry puree and extract until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time and continue mixing between additions until smooth and spreadable.  Frost top and sides of cake.  Garnish with pink sugar crystals and fresh strawberries, toasted almonds...whatever suits your fancy.   I didn't have fresh strawberries on hand so I used some moulded sugar shaped as roses on each corner.  

This frosting is great for cupcakes!

I'll be joining the following:
Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday
Simply Sweet Home for Friday Favorites
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Finer Things Friday
Bargain Hunting with Laurie
Funky Junk Interiors 
HodgePodge Friday
Romantic Home 
Under the table and Dreaming 
Recipe Recovery - Run DMT 
504 Main 
Finding Fabulous  
Pink Saturday

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Great Wall of China

Need I say more?

Joining Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Kim at Savvy Southern Style