My family has a tradition of making a special dinner whenever it is someone's birthday--and he/she gets to choose the menu. This tradition was one big thing that really made birthdays special when I was growing up, so I wanted to continue it with my own family. While our children are too young to know what to choose, we pick things we know they like. This year when I asked our youngest daughter what she wanted for her birthday dinner, the only thing she could tell me--which she had already been telling me for weeks-- was that she wanted "a pink, strawberry cake." This little girl loves Strawberry Shortcake, the cartoon character, but she was positive she wanted a pink cake instead of actual strawberry shortcake (I showed her pictures).
So I got to work searching through online recipes. Everything I found used either a cake mix and/or red jello powder. I was, of course, already planning to modify whatever I found, but those sort of items are not modifiable. So I kept searching and hit upon this one. Even exchanging the white flour for wheat, raw sugar for refined sugar, and in the frosting using Florida Crystals less refined sugar for powdered sugar (and half the amount called for, at that), it was very sweet, delicious, soft, satisfying, with a "berry" distinct strawberry flavor--and everyone at the party (all 15 people) seemed to like it a lot. I definitely want to make this one again!
Berry, Berry Strawberry Cake
3 c. whole wheat flour
3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/8 tsp. salt
2 c. raw sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. pureed strawberries, strained* (I didn't bother to strain them and was glad I didn't worry about it)--a 16 oz. carton of fresh strawberries made the perfect amount
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest
4 large eggs, beaten
red food coloring**
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside. (My round cake pans were big enough I only needed 2 of them.)
- Prepare the cake batter; in a large bowl, stir to combine flour, baking powder, salt, 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 (recipe below); frost 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.
** [The author of the blog recipe says:] 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. I needed about 7 drops, since I used whole wheat flour, which turned the batter a brownish color.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. Florida Crystals less refined sugar
1 Tb. milk (if needed--mine needed it)
- Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
- Slowly add the sugar in small batches until desired sweetness is achieved.
- Stir in vanilla. Add milk slowly if you need a looser consistency.