Pink is a four-letter word in our house.
Our child epitomizes the phrase ‘tom-boy’ to a T. Her favorite doll? Spiderman (and Power Ranger Samurai, though she’s still missing a couple of those). In fact, I had to take away her Barbies because she was ruining them . . . on purpose. Her favorite colors? Blue and green. Dresses? Be ready for looks of horror and loud protests. They’re only worn under duress for picture day.
So, when I make something like this cake, it’s an opportunity to tease my little one. I have fun dangling cake in front of her as something she won’t like because, oh the horror, it’s P.I.N.K. And she doesn’t let me down. There’s wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why, oh why do we have to have pink cake. Poor, poor Dudette.
On the other end of the spectrum is her good friend, nicknamed Boo. Boo is girlie. Boo wears dresses, tiaras, ballet shoes that sparkle and lots of pink.
When I decided I needed a boost on this pink cake, I showed the picture from the magazine to her and told her I had made it. “Oh, can I please come over and have some?” she whispered breathlessly, enthralled by the pinkness of it all.
So, today my friend Boo is coming over to have pink cake with me and I can’t wait.
I love the folks at America’s Test Kitchen for their passion and commitment to excellence. I really do. They claim to work on a recipe until it’s the best of the best and most times I would agree that they succeed. But, along the way they create a royal mess.
I’d love to stand in the corner of their test kitchen and see what happens after a recipe like this cake is developed. Did Lynn Clark, the cake’s author, do the dishes afterwards or did she leave them in the sink for others to clean up?
This isn’t a hard recipe to put together, but it creates a lot of work on the other end. The strawberries alone use a bowl for microwaving, a fine-mess strainer for pressing, the spatula and a saucepan. I just put the solids back into the original bowl, otherwise that would have been one more on the pile.
In the description, Lynn Clark said that adding the thick syrup, “turned the cake a pretty shade of pink.” Yes, that was true where the batter was concerned. It was nice to see the pink continue into the finished cake. It’s not a strong a color as theirs looks, but at least it’s there (and naturally to boot).
I can say that I am not a fan of adding 24 pieces of butter and cream cheese (for the cake and frosting) “1 piece at a time” until each is combined. Pffffft. Who has that kind of time for a cake?
This is good. In fact, it’s very good. I actually made it as dessert for a dinner party I had last night. Both guests ate their slices enthusiastically. The strawberry flavor does come through but I think the cream cheese taste overwhelms it a bit (which doesn’t bother me). The cake doesn’t rise super high, but it is moist and light. The slices of strawberries between the layers is a very nice touch.
Hubby agrees with me that while this is tasty, for the amount of work it was to make, I probably won’t do it again because there are others that we like more. If this had been over-the-top in flavor, the work beforehand and after wouldn’t matter.
I can’t wait to find out what Boo thinks.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
The reasoning behind using frozen strawberries that the cake can be made year-round. However, since fresh strawberries are needed for the frosting part, doesn’t that negate that reasoning?
- 10 ounces (2 cups) frozen whole strawberries
- ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2¼ cups (9 ounces) cake flour
- 1¾ cups (12¼ ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2¼ cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 12 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces and softened
- Pinch salt
- 8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin (2 cups)
- Put the oven rack in the middle and heat the oven to 350. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease that and then flour pans.
- Put thawed strawberries in a bowl, cover and microwave about 5 minutes, when strawberries are soft and juices are released. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a saucepan and press the strawberries through, reserving the solids. You should have ¾ cup of juices. Bring juice to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes or until syrupy and reduced to ¼ cup. Add the milk to the juice with a whisk.
- Whisk together strawberry milk, egg whites and vanilla in a bowl. In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time and mix until pea-sized pieces remain. Add half of milk mixture. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining milk mixture and beat until incorporated, 30 seconds. Give batter a final stir by hand.
- Divide batter between the two cake pans and bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Switch and rotate pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool complete for 2 hours.
- Mix butter and sugar at low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add strawberry solids and salt. Mix until combined.
- Dry sliced fresh strawberries.
- When cakes are cool, spread ¾ cup frosting over bottom layer. Press strawberry slices into frosting and cover with ¼ more frosting. Add top cake layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides.
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