“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...”

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Friday, June 16, 2017

I love baking cakes and especially decorating them! It's something I used to do when I was a little girl. I was obsessed with learning how to decorate a cake. I used to get the Wilton catalog and flip through all the pages, marking different piping tips and other cake tools I planned to save up for. I even bought a VHS course on decorating cakes. I prefer to decorate my cakes a little differently than I did when I was a little girl, but I am glad there was a time in my life where I learned how to use a piping bag and those little tips and tricks on how to frost a cake so it's smooth. I don't have any of my cake decorating tools anymore and I only have a select few piping tips in my cupboard. So I usually keep my cake decorating on the simple side these days. Believe it or not, I even frosted this cake with a regular old butter knife! It works, you just have to be patient.

This year I was gifted by a few of my David Austin rosebuds opening up the day before my birthday! I took it as a sign that I needed to decorate my cake with my freshly bloomed roses. Because this year I decided to make a strawberry cake, I thought it only proper to add strawberries to the decoration as well. It was hard to find a good recipe for strawberry cake, but I found one that looked pretty good and it turned out utterly delicious! I didn't even have any strawberry extract as the recipe recommends and it still tasted fabulous. I also did not add any food coloring. I wanted it to be a simple cake, nothing too fancy and if there was only a hint of strawberry taste, I was okay with that. It does call for strawberry gelatin, though, so that definitely added to the flavor. Sprouts (our grocery store) didn't have the Jello brand, so I used whatever they had (Bakol Jel Dessert) which worked out just fine. I don't know if the Jello brand has a better flavor, but this one worked out beautifully. By the way, since I halved the recipe, I used only half of the gelatin package. The addition of strawberry puree gave the cake a very slight tinge of pink color, but it was mostly a cream color. I love how natural it looks, though. To me, it was just right.

For the frosting, I decided to look around for something I've never made before. I found a recipe for flour buttercream frosting. I have never ever heard of this kind of buttercream frosting and I was intrigued! I think the American buttercream icing can sometimes be too sweet for me and a little too rich and I was interested in finding something not quite so sweet. So I tried out the flour buttercream and it worked out perfectly. Because I halved the frosting recipe, I decided I would risk adding some strawberry puree (left over from the cake) a tablespoon at a time and see how it would turn out. If it didn't turn out, I would just make another batch. It worked perfectly! I added about two tablespoons of the strawberry puree, 1 tablespoon at a time, and then added about half a cup of confectioners' sugar. 

Because I cobbled this cake recipe together, I thought I would share the links instead of writing it all down. I made half of the recipe and used 2, 6" cake pans, as I always do for birthday cake. Since this cake was to be eaten by only two people, there is no way I was going to make a whole birthday cake! We would be eating it all month long! In all honesty, though, it took us exactly one week to demolish my birthday cake! It was that good! I think it is now my husband's favorite cake that I've made so far (mine too, and I think our cat Ernest would agree)! 


The Cake Recipe

  • I used the strawberry cake recipe from Sweetapolita and made only 1/2 of the recipe and baked it in 2 - 6" cake pans. It worked out perfectly! 
  • I made Flour Buttercream frosting using the wonderfully detailed recipe from Serious Eats and only made half of the recipe. I then decided to add in 2 tablespoons strawberry puree (I had a lot left over after making the cake, but it's essentially strawberries and sugar which have been pureed in a blender, but I used an immersion blender and it worked great). Add in only 1 tablespoon at a time to see how it looks and tastes before continuing. I also added 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar after adding the strawberry puree. 

Tips on Assembling the Cake

  • I baked the cake two  days before my birthday and then wrapped the fully cooled cakes in plastic wrap and froze them. I find that frozen cake layers, especially light airy cakes, frost so much better when they are frozen. They usually thaw pretty fast as well when left out at room temperature or in the fridge for a day. I also like to frost the cake the day before and put it in the refrigerator over night. 
  • Because I didn't have any strawberry flavoring added to my cake or frosting, and wanted a bit more strawberry flavor coming through, I decided to heat up a few tablespoons of some nice strawberry jam I had in the refrigerator and while frosting the cake, I would first spread a layer of strawberry jam on the cake layer before adding the frosting. I do think it made a big difference to the overall taste and it also acts as a "crumb coating" to keep those little crumbs from mixing with the frosting. 
  • If you use flowers to decorate your cake, double check to make sure they aren't poisonous (of course this should be obviously, but just have to add that bit in)! 


Let me know if you have any other questions about cake decorating and I'll try to help if I can! Baking, and especially decorating a cake is something I look forward to every year. Maybe it's strange to make my own birthday cake, but I'm always excited to try something new or interesting! Who else out there makes their own birthday cake and loves doing it? 
 

P.S. Just in case you don't know, everything in my shop (including custom orders) is 33% off using the code "BIRTHDAY" and this will continue all throughout the month of June. Let me know if you don't see something in the shop. I'm always open to custom orders!