Happy Mother’s Day!!
Though I’ve been baking for a while, I really haven’t made a whole lot of cakes. But since watching The Great British Bake-Off, I’ve been dying to make a layer cake with frosting and fancy decorations. So off I went to get myself some cake decorating supplies. Well, an icing spatula and an icing tip set, anyway. And I finally got the opportunity to make such a cake for Mother’s Day!
I don’t know why but I somehow seem to end up making strawberry cakes for my parent’s birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. It’s unconsciously done, I swear. It probably has something to do with the fact that my mom is wary of desserts being too sweet (well, non-Indian desserts, anyway. Somehow, she has no problem with nauseatingly sugary Indian desserts) and strawberries seem to provide a milder flavor.
I got this recipe from Sarah over at The Vanilla Bean Blog. I only recently discovered her blog and it’s awesome. I will definitely be trying out more of her recipes. I basically followed her recipe exactly, because I have little experience with cakes and didn’t want to screw it up. I think it turned out pretty well though my cake was not as fluffy as I would have liked. I’ll have to do a bit more work to figure out how to fix that for next time.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (about 70 degrees)
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 cups (16 ounces) strawberries, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups strawberries, approximately equal size and cut into slices
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and butter and flour the pans. I used this video for reference.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and sour cream and set aside.
- In a standing mixer, whip the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time, keeping the batter light and airy.
- Fold in the flour and the buttermilk-sour cream mixture in parts with a spatula.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a little bit of crumb.
- Set the cakes aside until you’re ready to assemble. I made the cakes the night before and kept them in the refrigerator. I’ve read that cakes are easier to frost when cold so they won’t crumb and it was true in my case.
For the Buttercream:
- Add the strawberries and water in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, and let it simmer until most of the water has evaporated.
- Place the strawberries in a blender and process until smooth. I chose not to add any food coloring but this would be the time to do it if you want it. Set the purée aside to cool.
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add the egg whites, sugar, and a pinch of salt to a heatproof mixer bowl set over the water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and mixture is 160 degrees. (I was not sure what the point of this was so I looked it up…apparently it’s to make sure you kill any Salmonella in the eggs. Just make sure you don’t heat the eggs so much that they start cooking).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on medium for 5 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Reduce the speed to medium again and add butter, a little at a time, to form a light buttercream.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add vanilla and strawberry puree on low speed. It made for a lovely, light pink color.
- You can use the buttercream immediately, or cover, and refrigerate.
To assemble the cake:
- Place the first layer on your cake stand and spread a layer of buttercream over it.
- Carefully place the second cake over the first and add another layer of buttercream.
- Add the third cake layer, spread the buttercream over the top.
- Carefully ice the sides of the cake.
- If you choose to decorate with strawberries, arrange the slices over the cake. This floral design I chose turned out to be fairly easy to execute. Simple arrange the slices in overlapping circles, starting from the outer circle. Finish with the central strawberry.
- I had a few more slices left over so I pressed some along the sides of the cake.
I made the cake for a party with several families so we gathered all the moms together and had them cut the cake! Here’s a pictures from the party (more to come soon!).