Homemade Strawberry Cake
When it comes to strawberry cake, there are a shocking lack of recipes that are truly made from scratch. Most recipes call for white cake mix, strawberry gelatin packages or mounds of strawberry preserves. Delicious as they may be, I was not willing to give in to the Sandra Lee mentality (though I know there are times when it is an absolute necessity), and I decided to experiment with some truly, from-scratch recipes to see if I could make a strawberry cake that was homemade (and delicious) without resorting to any strange gelatin packages or overly processed preserves.
I saw a suggestion on some web discussion board (probably Chowhound) to use another dense fruit cake recipe and substitute strawberries for the original fruit. With that in mind, I dove head first into a classic Paula Deen recipe for Hummingbird Cake, which is traditionally made with mashed bananas and pineapple. I switched the bananas and the pineapple for pureed strawberries, left out the chopped nuts completely, and substituted lemon zest for the cinnamon. I’m convinced that it would have been an outstanding success on the first try if I hadn’t first suffered through the Great Flour Debacle.
As a novice cook/chef/baker/food maker, I am still in the stage where I literally learn something new with every recipe I try. In fact, I look forward to the new skills I’ll learn (and … ah hem, challenges I’ll face) with each new recipe. Truth be told, this strawberry cake recipe should probably be called Learning Things About Flour (or Self-Rising Flour is Not the Same As Cake Flour). My initial fast skimming of the recipe (a serious no-no, in and of itself), combined with my desire to use up the two open boxes of cake flour sitting in the pantry (don’t ask why there are two open boxes … there just isn’t a good answer), I immediately equated self-rising flour with cake flour. Don’t ask why … there isn’t a good answer. In my mind it made perfect sense!
When the cake remained as flat as a board and as dense as seven-year old fruit cake, my instant hysterics preventing me from calmly searching the internet to discover that self-rising flour is nothing more than all-purpose flour with added baking powder and salt (all of which I had in the pantry). Instead, a grief-stricken call was made to my knight-in-shinning-armor who immediately showed up with self-rising flour in hand.
I’m happy to report that the second batch was a complete success … and that I now know what self-rising flour is! Hooray! The cake was moist but not too heavy. I paired it with a not-too-sweet cream cream frosting which was really perfect. The original recipe made three 8 x 2 cakes, but I made a bundt cake and about eight cupcakes instead.
Update: Nurit over at 1family.friendly.food. is holding a Cake Collection Giveaway and she has graciously invited me to submit this recipe. I can’t believe she makes a new cake every weekend!!
Homemade Strawberry Cake
For the cake:
Nonstick vegetable spray
All-purpose flour, for pans
3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup pureed strawberries, strained*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 large eggs, beaten
red food coloring**
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~ 3 cups (approx. 1 box) confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
- Prepare the cake batter; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pureed strawberries, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 26 to 28 minutes.
- Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
- Prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
- Slowly add the sugar in 1 cup batches until desired sweetness is achieved. You may need less than 3 cups if you like your frosting less sweet.
- Stir in vanilla. Add milk slowly if you need a looser consistency.
- Frost cake as desired and refrigerate until ready to serve.
* You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. If you use frozen, let them defrost on a cookie sheet. Then place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Run through a medium-sized strainer to remove the seeds. If you have some extra strawberries, try whipping up a quick batch of strawberry scones!
** While I did manage to avoid using red colored gelatin, I did add some food coloring to achieve that perfectly pink color. If you don't care about getting the pink color, feel free to leave it out. I used about 5 drops, but you should add them one at a time until you achieve the color you are looking for.
Adapted from Paula Deen's Hummingbird Cake