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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.