Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Fresh Strawberry Cake for a Springtime Birthday Dinner

Our granddaughter (or "Grand angel" as Paul calls her) asked for a strawberry cake and filet mignon for her birthday. Oh boy! I got to set a pretty pink table and use my pretty "new" flea market dishes, along with my old family pieces!

The footed iced tea glasses, in the Mayfair pattern, are heirlooms: they belonged to Big Grandmother - my great-grandmother, Mema's mother. I inherited her pink depression glass, mostly in the Cherry Blossom pattern - the cake plate is one of those pieces.

The plates are a recent find, with hand-painted wild roses in pink with green leaves. They look very much like Franciscan's Desert Rose. They were made by Villeroy and Bach, a good brand, but they were quite dirty from having been packed in newspaper and so were priced very cheap. A good scrub with my glass cooktop cleaner (I use Ceramabrite - it's basically a polishing glass wax) took the stains right off.


My table is oval, and it is impossible to find tablecloths in that shape, so I end up using oblong ones. This vintage damask linen is one of the few oval table cloths I have. The pink is such a pretty shade.

Paul cooked a lovely meal: filet mignon, baked potato, our own asparagus with a saffron sauce. For starters, he made a hot chicken dip that she'd also requested - one of her mother's recipes. It was yummy, and I'll share the recipe for that another time.

Here's the recipe for the cake - it got raves all around and has a lovely fresh taste. Keeps so well in the refigerator. It is one I will make again: nice and cool for a summer barbeque, and it is best if made in advance. That's important for me: things I can make up the night before, to save time and fit my schedule.

Pretty & Pink Fresh Strawberry Cake


1 boxed yellow cake mix
3 tablespoons flour
1 small box strawberry gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups of strawberries (a one pound carton)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour three round cake pans.

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let it sit to dissolve.

Wash the berries. Pick out 5 or 6 pretty strawberries for garnish and set them aside. Hull the rest of them. Take another cup full of whole, hulled berries and set them aside - they will be sliced for the layers later.

Take one cup of strawberries and chop finely. Add them to the mixing bowl with gelatin, and beat on high for a couple of minutes, then add the remaining ingredients: cake mix, flour, eggs, oil. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans 5 or 10 minutes, then turn out and complete cooling on wire racks.

Chop one cup of strawberries finely and sprinkle with sugar in a small bowl. Let them sit a few minutes to draw excess liquid out, then drain them.

Whip the cream and set aside. Cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar and the drained, chopped strawberries until light and fluffy then add the whipped cream. If necessary, add more powdered sugar until the frosting holds peaks. Refrigerate the frosting until you are ready to ice the cake.

Slice the rest of the strawberries (except the ones to be used for garnish - leave them aside for now) into very thin slices.

When layers are cool, place one on a cake plate. Spread frosting on top evenly to the edges. Arrange half of your thinly sliced strawberries all over the top of this layer, then put the next cake layer on top of that and repeat, using the rest of the thinly sliced berries on this layer.

Top with the 3rd layer and frost the top and sides thickly with the frosting.

Do not garnish until right before serving, as the juice from cut berries will drip down the sides of the cake. To avoid this, you could garnish with a single whole berry in the center.

When ready to serve, add the strawberries for garnish - in this photo, Paul showed me how to fan the center one by leaving the hull on, and slicing through from bottom to top, leaving the slices attached at the hull end, then twist slightly to fan it out. The other berries were simply cut in half and arranged around it.

Store this cake in the refrigerator and serve chilled. It keeps beautifully and is best made a day or two before.


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