Monday, July 30, 2018

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow CandlesBirthdays aren't just for kids, and should always be celebrated as something special.  And, of course, there should always be cake.  I've experimented with many variations of strawberry cakes over the years, from using fresh strawberries, to making a strawberry reduction, and now, with freeze-dried strawberries, which I absolutely love.

I've never cared for how fresh strawberries turn out when baked into batters - they not only contribute too much moisture, but they lose their color and look sort of unappealing after baking.  Making a reduction or puree with the berries to stir into the batter works a bit better, but the result still wasn't quite what I wanted, and the color of the cake ended up looking more brown than pink.

What I love about the freeze-dried strawberries, though, is their beautiful bright color and intense strawberry flavor, which makes them really perfect for flavoring a cake.
They quickly turn to powder when spun in a food processor and they add a beautiful flavor to both the cake and the buttercream.  My grocery store doesn't carry them, so I ordered mine on Amazon, although if you have a Trader Joe's near you, I believe they can be found there.

I also made a batch of dark chocolate syrup to drizzle over slices of cake, and the chocolate syrup over strawberry cake was fantastic.



Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles



On my 30th birthday 10 years ago, one of my nieces had been born just 3 days prior, so understandably, my family was a little busy and distracted.  Along with that, I had lived in that town for less than a year, as well as worked from home all week and overtime on most weekends in a little purple apartment next to a train track, so I really didn't know anyone locally to celebrate with.  My cat, who had been with me since I was 13 years old, had just died, and I was completely broken-hearted over losing her, much more so than from several romantic relationships I had started and ended that year.

Someone brought a cake to the hospital, and we ate cake in my sister's room while taking turns holding the baby.  Of course, I was thrilled about my niece's birth.  But I couldn't help wishing that my 30th birthday was commemorated in some way, just for me, especially since 18 and 21 had also gone by without much pomp, and I had been hoping for something a little more special, a little more intentional.  At the same time, I felt terribly guilty and selfish for letting it bother me.

The very next year, just a few months after moving back to Colorado, I met my husband and he has always loved making a big deal over birthdays and holidays.  Before we had kids, we would take lots of trips together, a few surprise trips to San Diego and San Francisco, and many road trips around Colorado, one of our favorites being to Paonia, CO for wine tasting, where we've gone at least three or four times over the last few years.



Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles



Last week was my 40th birthday.  It's a big one, but the number doesn't bother me, and it didn't really feel big since life just continued on as it always does and we're so very busy these days with a three-month-old baby and a toddler.  We had a weekend trip planned to Palisade, CO with some friends, but had to cancel at the last minute, which was really disappointing.  Our group of friends went anyway, since they were celebrating birthdays for myself and another friend who also turned 40, and seeing all their photos on Facebook and Instagram the last few days, and feeling a bit left behind, has been hard.  With no family near us to help with the kids, my husband and I haven't had even an evening to ourselves in almost two years, and after hardly leaving the house the last three months except for doctor appointments and very rushed errands and grocery runs, I was so looking forward to a weekend away.

But we just couldn't make it work, and it's been difficult to swallow my disappointment over missing out on a trip we were supposed to be a part of.  I guess in a way I felt like that trip was ours, that since we had been the ones to discover all those vineyards and wineries and fruit stands and apricot-strewn lanes, and I have so many wonderful memories of sunny summer days there with my husband, that we should have been there to be able to share it with our friends.

I love being a mom, I've wanted kids for as long as I can remember, and I'm so incredibly grateful to be able to be home with my boys.  I won't wish away their littleness, because I know that too soon, it will be gone.  Just the other night, we stopped swaddling our baby to sleep, since he was determined to set his arms free anyway, and just like that, he no longer wanted or needed to be swaddled.  And the other day, I noticed faint tan lines on our toddler's arms and neck, and was suddenly sad that his soft baby skin and cute little double chin was quickly disappearing.  I can't believe how quickly they change.

My toddler gets so excited when he sees a new cake on the counter, and he loved looking at the pretty rainbow candles all lit up.  My husband took the day off work on my birthday, and we had a relaxing day at home - that is, as relaxing as a day can be when you have a baby and a toddler who need constant attention.  My husband made a wonderful steak dinner that night (which we didn't eat until after 11pm, due to our 3-month-old being unusually difficult to get to sleep that night), and we had already cut into the cake earlier that afternoon.

After having two babies in two years, 40 is feeling pretty tiring, but I'm excited about what comes next...




Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles

Strawberry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Birthday Party Cake, Rainbow Candles




Strawberry Cake

Cake.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 3/4 cups cake flour (all-purpose flour can also be used)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries, finely crushed
Buttercream.
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • pinch salt
  • milk or cream, if needed
Cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for 7-10 minutes, scraping the bowl down every few minutes, until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, sour cream and extracts, just to combine.  With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix for 1 minute to combine; it will look lumpy/curdled.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and crushed dried strawberries; mix on low for 30 seconds, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes for light and airy batter.

Divide the batter between the cake pans.  Bake for 25-27 minutes, until the centers are done.  Set the pans on a wire rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.

Buttercream.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, crushed dried strawberries and meringue powder and mix to combine.  Add the extracts, salt and milk, and whip on medium high, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

Fill and frost the cooled cakes with the buttercream.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

2 comments :

  1. Happy belated birthday, Heather! I hope that you and your husband are able to find time soon to go on a weekend trip or have some meaningful time alone together. That time is just as important and precious as the time spent savoring your babies. ❤

    ReplyDelete

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