Lightly Turning to Thoughts of Cake

My feelings toward spring are the very definition of bittersweet.

On one hand, the season ushers in warmer weather, which quickly gives way to the soul-wilting heat, humidity, and bugs for which NC is famous. dogwoodOn the other hand, we get dogwood blossoms, and my April birthday, which brings with it obscenely frosted Dewey’s birthday cake.

And the warmer weather brings spring berries to make my strawberry cake.  The cake recipe comes from author Ruth Reichl, and the frosting’s from my mom.

Joyland Strawberry Layer Cakenicky's cakeCake:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, room temp.

2 ¼ cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons real vanillacake batterPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round tins.

Cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix into butter mixture.  When mixture just comes together, mix in sour cream and vanilla until batter is fully blended.cake in tinsCarefully spoon batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Start checking after about 22 minutes and remove from oven as soon as toothpick comes out clean, but moist.  Cool in pan 5 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Vanilla Simple Syrupsugar syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat sugar and water in pan on stove until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir in vanilla and let cool.

Mom’s American Buttercreamstaw buttercream3 1-pound boxes powdered sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 scant teaspoons cream of tartar

1 cup butter-flavor Crisco

3 egg whites

¾ cup of water (or less)

2 tablespoons vanilla

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup strawberry jamstraw mixerDump all ingredients except the jam into mixer. Beat ingredients at low until it starts to come together.  Put water in at this point, a bit at a time. Once it gets to creamy frosting and piping consistency, let it go on medium-high for 4 minutes. 

Remove two thirds of the frosting, cover, and set aside.  Add jam to remaining frosting in mixer and let it go on medium-high until it’s completely incorporated and smooth (2-3 minutes).

Assemblystrawberry1-pint fresh strawberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

Brush both cakes generously with simple syrup.

Cut tops off cake so they’re straight and level and put cut pieces into a food processor until they’re small crumbs and set aside.  Slice each cake in half, horizontally.  Pipe one ring around the outside top of three layers as a dam, then fill with strawberry buttercream, and smooth down.  Stack onto cake board or plate, topping with unfrosted layer then put into fridge until frosting firms up.pipingFrost with about half the remaining frosting.  Smooth it as much as you can.  Gently press the cake crumbs around the sides of the cake until it’s fully covered.   

Cut the stem off the strawberries and place, cut side down, onto paper towels.  Melt the white chocolate and dip the bottoms of the berries about 1/5 the way up.  Place on parchment-covered pan and let set and harden.straw cake finishedUsing a large star tip, put a border around the top and bottom of the cake.  Place stars around the top in a decorative manner and top each with chocolate-coated strawberries.  Cover and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight before service.

This cake is spring-y and beautiful and taken to Easter dinner will make you the talk of the day. easter goddessThanks for your time.

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