strawberry cake

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I do not like oddball mixing methods. In fact, unless they’re explained, my habit is to ignore them completely. I know that muffins are sometimes mixed like cakes and that there are different types of cookies, but in general, I’m familiar with the normal mixing methods, and if something strays too far from what I recognize, it annoys me and I adapt the recipe to what seems more sensible.

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The first strawberry cake I made has a weird mixing method. You mix the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl, then add strawberry puree and softened butter and beat the mixture until it’s fluffy. Only then do you add milk and the egg whites in a few additions, mixing just until they’re mixed in.

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The egg whites are added at the end? Bizarro.

*Disclaimer: I accidentally added the milk with the strawberry puree. I don’t think this would have a significant effect on the outcome, but I can’t be sure.

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The cake was good, but, to me, not perfect. My mini cupcakes were a little sticky, or maybe gummy is a better word. What’s stranger is that all of the cupcake wrappers detached themselves from the cupcake within a few hours of baking. The flavor was great though, and every time I opened the lid to the container, I got a nice whiff of strawberries.

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The other recipe I tried, from Good Things Catered, is similar to Cooks Illustrated’s white cake recipe, which I have previously enjoyed, with strawberry puree substituted for a portion of the milk. This recipe also has an unusual method – dry ingredients, then butter, most of the eggs + liquid, and then the rest of the eggs and liquid, followed by about a minute of beating the batter.

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This cake, I have to admit, seemed a little dry. On the other hand, I did refrigerate it almost immediately after cooling, and then it was in and out of the freezer as I tried to neatly frost it, so perhaps I was a little too rough with it.

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Both cakes were good. The strawberry flavor is definitely noticeable, which is nice. If I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the first one, from the Sky High cookbook, because it seemed more tender. However, what I really want to do is try the ingredients of the first one with a different mixing method. I have a feeling you can’t combine those ingredients and end up with anything that isn’t good, but I love to experiment.

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One year ago: Baba Ghanoush and Fafafel

Pink Lady Cake (from Sky High via Smitten Kitchen)

Keep in mind that Sky High designs recipes for big cakes. If you’re not feeding a crowd, don’t be afraid to cut the recipe in half, which will yield the same amount of cake as most other cake recipes. Divide the batter between two 8- or 9-inch round pans and bake for 23-25 minutes.

All of the cupcake pictures are of this cake.

4½ cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups pureed frozen strawberries (from about 12 ounces of strawberries)
8 egg whites
⅔ cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye, optional (to make the pink color more intense)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble strawberry ice cream at this point.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and red food dye, if using, to blend. Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.

4. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.

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Strawberry Cake (adapted from Good Things Catered and Cooks Illustrated’s Classic White Layer Cake)

All of the layer cake pictures are from this cake.

Serves 12

Nonstick cooking spray
2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
¼ cup whole milk, at room temperature
¾ cup strawberry puree (from about 6 ounces strawberries)
6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups granulated sugar (12¼ ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool

1. Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

2. Pour milk, strawberry puree, egg whites, and extract into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

4. Add all but ½ cup of strawberry mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining ½ cup of strawberry mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1½ hours.

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Comments

  1. Branny says:

    Ratio by Ruhlman does a good job of explaining reasoning behind mixing methods. Your photos are great, btw.

  2. bridget says:

    Branny – I actually think I have a fairly good understanding of why certain things are mixed the way they are (if I do say so myself.) :) That’s exactly why I get antsy when things are done so differently and there’s no explanation.

    But this book seems to be all the rage lately, so I’m definitely interested in checking it out.

  3. Erin says:

    I love strawberry cake, and have been wanting to make the Sky High cake for a while. It’s interesting to look at different methods and the outcomes, and I love your comparison posts!

  4. Ellie says:

    Very cool post with mouthwateringly beautiful photos. Love it!

  5. Steph says:

    I’m like that too when it comes to weird mixing directions. It really annoys me and I can’t help but change it. That’s why it took me so long to try RLB recipes because the addition of the milk along with the butter seemed weird, especially when the purpose of the butter was supposed to coat the flour and the liquid creates gluten (it seemed like they were working against each other). Also, she adds her eggs in last and I thought that was weird too.. maybe it’s because I’m so used to thinking that we have to beat eggs like crazy. It also didn’t help that there were those who said her cakes were the fluffiest and others who said that they were dry. Finally, I gave her method a try (which is similar to Sky High’s) and I actually liked it better than CI’s version where they coat the flour with butter first and then add liquid. Personally, I like the creaming method the best though.

  6. Risa says:

    I definitely agree with you. I tend to just follow my own mixing methodology. Love the pink color :)

  7. VeggieGirl says:

    I always mix in my own way as well – we’re kitchen rebels I guess ;-)

    Such a stunning cake!

  8. deb says:

    Lovely cakes! I do agree about the mixing methods; I would love to ask Huntsman why all of her recipes go about it so untraditionally. Especially when there’s good reason most recipes start by creaming the butter/sugar, then adding dry-wet-dry etc. But then again, her recipes are always so good, I forget how odd they are to put together until someone else brings it up.

  9. Hélène says:

    I usually don’t follow a recipe and do it the way I want. What a beautiful cake you made.

  10. Michele says:

    I think both cakes look delicious, and so pretty!

  11. ~L.K. says:

    To my shame, when making cookies, I can’t help but dump all the ingredients in the bowl at once and stir (no matter what the recipe says). My baker brother tends to be horrified, but I’ve always come out with cookies the way I liked them. Although he tends to enjoy gooey, barely cooked ones, while I prefer properly baked cookies with a little brown edge around them.

  12. I can’t give any advice on how to mix up baking ingredients. I do make a great taster and judge! lol

  13. Manggy says:

    Actually, I gotta say, I hate Cooks Illustrated’s mixing method, which is a complete waste of effort and extremely cumbersome for someone like me who doesn’t have a stand mixer (and poo on them for assuming that I own one). I always mix it according to the rules set by Flo Braker, because it’s the simplest, most organized, and produces a consistent result. (By the way, to Steph: beating eggs like crazy lifts the top crust of the cake off the surface as it bakes. But maybe you’d need to be really really crazy.)
    There’s definitely some funny stuff going on with your disrobing cupcakes, but everything here looks absolutely luscious. I’m just a sucker for layer cakes. And berries. Droool.

  14. Thanks for discussing the differences in mixing methods, such a great useful post. Both cakes look tempting and tasty and I LOVE the soft pink color.

  15. Joelen says:

    This looks fantastic and I love the light pale pink hue of this cake! (I’ve missed commenting on your blog for a bit so it’s so good to have some time and catch up with all your cooking/baking! :) )

  16. Shaun says:

    I love all things strawberry! As for the mixing methods I’ve used the Cook’s Illustrated method (the reverse creaming method) many times with decent result. Rose Levy Beranbaum also uses this method in her book “The Cake Bible.” Both cakes look yummy.

  17. The cupcakes look really good. They rose perfectly :D
    On looks alone, I agree with you, and like the Sky High better

  18. Katie says:

    Oh yum! These look great! How weird about the CI recipe. I dont even think I have the white cake recipe at home. I’ll have to look back at that. Thanks!

  19. Christine says:

    This looks amazing! Do you have the recipe for the frosting anywhere?

  20. bridget says:

    Christine – Actually, my frosting didn’t really work out. It was a cream cheese frosting that I added pureed strawberries to, but it wasn’t stiff enough. If you want something similar, you might try heating, then straining strawberry jam. That should get you the strawberry flavor without adding a bunch of liquid.

  21. WoW! definitely great. . i was drooling at this point.=)

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