Monday, July 1, 2013

First Day of Summer Strawberry Lemonade Cake

I baked this cake for the first day of summer, and although there's no lemonade in the cake, I'm calling this a Strawberry Lemonade Cake since it's full of fresh strawberries and zingy lemon zest and juice.  What could be more summery?

Sweet strawberries, simmered with sugar and a little lemon, then pureed into strawberry juice, replaced the liquid in the cake, and colored the batter a pretty, dusky pink color, which could be further enhanced with pink or red food coloring, if you like.  Then I filled the cake with my own homemade strawberry rhubarb jam.  Each bite of soft cake was bursting with strawberry flavor, complemented by the slightly tart jam.

The lemon buttercream was tart with both lemon zest and juice, and a subtle pale yellow color that contrasted so prettily with red piping details.

When I started piping the red strawberries, I was unsure about how they looked, but after adding the red dots around the bottom, the ruffly buttercream flowers up the sides and finishing the cake with a strawberry on top, I loved the whole design and thought the piped strawberries were such a cute touch.

I would have adored a cake like this for my birthday when I was little.  I still would!

One Year Ago:   The First Peach of Summer - Peachy Rhubarb Pie
Two Years AgoMediterranean Vegetable Platter

Strawberry Lemonade Cake
printable recipe

Strawberry Cake:
·         2 cups diced strawberries
·         ½ cup granulated sugar
·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
·         1 box white cake mix
·         ¼ cup flour
·         ½ cup oil
·         3 eggs
·         2 teaspoons vanilla
·         Pink or red food coloring, if desired

Lemon Buttercream:
·         2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         4 cups powdered sugar
·         2 tablespoons meringue powder
·         Zest of 2 small lemons
·         4-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 small lemons)

·         1 cup strawberry jam or lemon curd, whichever is preferred (I used my own homemade strawberry rhubarb jam)

Bake the Cake:
In a saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Let stand for 15 minutes until juicy.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until very liquidy.  Carefully pour the hot mixture into your blender and puree until smooth.  Pour through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.  Return the strawberry juice to the saucepan and simmer over medium low heat for a few more minutes until reduced to 1 ¼ cups.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray, line with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper also.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cake mix, oil, eggs, vanilla and strawberry juice on low to combine, then beat for 3 minutes until smooth.  Without food coloring, the resulting color of the cakes will be a dusky brownish pink from the strawberry juice; add food coloring if you want a more distinctive pink or red color for the cake.  Divide batter between the pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centers spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean.  Set pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.

Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for one minute.  Combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder, and with the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar a spoonful at a time.  Add the lemon zest and juice, and beat on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Assemble and Decorate:
Remove the cakes from the pans and level the tops, if needed.  Place one of the cakes on a pedestal or cake board and top with half the filling (I always pipe a thin “dam” of buttercream around the edge first, to make sure the filling doesn’t leak out).  Add another cake and top with the rest of the filling.  Add the last cake.  Frost all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream, and chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before frosting with a final layer of buttercream.

To decorate my cake, I scooped some of the lemon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with the large drop flower tip.  Starting at the bottom edge, I piped from the bottom to the top to create the ruffled vertical rows of buttercream flowers.

Then I tinted small amounts of buttercream red and green and used a small round tip to pipe the strawberries.

Recipe and Design from Curly Girl Kitchen