As I anticipate moving to Austin and beginning my MFA in creative writing, I've been contemplating ways to continue my baking. Ryan and I want to open a bakery in the next few years, and I'm constantly trying new recipes and techniques so that when/if that day comes, I'll be prepared. One of my plans is to start baking cakes/pies/muffins "at cost". Ryan and I love baked goods, but we simply can't eat enough of them to keep up with my baking schedule! Additionally, I'm finding more and more of our monthly budget going to flour, sugar, fruit, ect...So I'm hoping that I can begin offering my services to friends and people in my community.
Our dessert night this past week was larger than usual. Instead of the normal three, we had eight people over to our tiny apartment, and we shared this light and fresh strawberry cake. Composed of three layers of vanilla cake and smothered in a fresh strawberry icing, this spring concoction pleased all. Click on the link below the picture to read more...
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1 cup of fresh strawberries, stems removed
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Puree strawberries in a blender or a food processor until almost liquid.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter with mixer and gradually add in powdered sugar. Add in strawberry puree and vanilla and mix until well combined and fluffy.
I would recommend refrigerating your layers before frosting them. Although it means you might have to allot a few more hours of time to your creation, you will find the layers so much easier to work with when you begin frosting. After letting my layers cool on a wire rack, I wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least a few hours and up to a day.
Adapted from several sources
Yield: 3 9-inch layers or 24 cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. Add your flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed.
3. Divide your batter equally among prepared pans. (I use measuring cups in order to ensure equal distribution) Level you batter in each pan by holding it a few above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure a more level cake.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking at 15 minutes if you are making cupcakes).
* Self-rising flour: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.
1. After cake layers are thouroughly cooled and preferably refrigerated, transfer your first layer to a serving platter or cardboard cake mat. In this recipe, I spread a strawberry jam in between the layers of cake, which worked wonderfully and was much easier than making a homemade curd. Spread a thin layer of jam or curd over your first layer. Carefully align second layer on top and repeat with jam. Place your final layer on top but do not slather with curd or jam.
2. Frost top and sides of cake with icing. A wide knife or spatula work well. Decorate cake with sliced strawberries if desired.