Holiday weekends can get very busy. With our communities opening up after the pandemic, we want to relax and really enjoy time together. I enjoy cooking for others but it’s nice to have a few recipes on hand that don’t take a lot of time or that can be done in stages.
Using fresh strawberries in a cake recipe can leave the cake wet. I find it hard to pull that strawberry flavor out of the fruit and into baked goods. However, there are several things you can do to intensify the taste.
REDUCE STRAWBERRY PUREE:
Using 1 pound of fresh, ripe strawberries, purée them in a blender or food processor. Reduce the purée on your stove by simmering for 30 minutes. It will reduce to a thicker consistency to about a ½ cup. Do not add sugar.
The purée MUST be completely cooled before adding to the cake batter. It’s a good idea to make it a day ahead and refrigerate. Bring the purée back up to room temperature before adding to the batter.
Add strawberry purée to the cake batter and fold to combine. You will have a slightly pink batter. The batter will not be this pink after baking so if you would like more color, add a drop of pink or red food coloring.
GETTING THAT STRAWBERRY FLAVOR:
- As previously discussed, purée the strawberries and reduce to add to the cake batter.
- Add strawberry simple syrup into the batter replacing the vanilla extract. See my recipe for Raspberry Simple Syrup. Just switch out the raspberries with cut strawberries and follow the directions.
- Poke holes in the cooled baked cake and generously apply strawberry simple syrup to the top of the cake. The syrup will fill the holes and add more flavor. Here are a few examples.
- Add strawberry flavor to the frosting by replacing the vanilla extract in buttercream with strawberry simple syrup. If using white frosting in your design, scoop out the amount of buttercream you need first. Otherwise, the white frosting will have a pink tint.
How do I get buttercream frosting so white? Keep a small bottle of clear vanilla extract on hand. Buttercream will always start off yellow because, well, “butter”. Adding the powdered sugar will make the frosting whiter but then you add in regular vanilla, which is brown, and your frosting remains a light yellow cream color. Clear vanilla is great for when white is one of the main colors being used for decorating. You can find it in any grocery store.
QUICK FROSTING OPTIONS:
- If you don’t have the time to decorate, choose one buttercream color and spread it over the cake. Just add sprinkles.
- Use whipped cream instead. Spread Cool Whip, or homemade whipped cream, over the cake and create a flag using cut strawberries and blueberries. Scroll down Sally’s recipe for Sheet Cake and see the beautiful flag cake!
- You can use cream cheese frosting, too. Add in 1 cup of ground up freeze-dried strawberries to the recipe. This will make a VERY pink frosting.
Keep it simple. Holidays are for relaxing, too. Choose what will be easy for you when friends and family come together for a barbecue.
I love rosettes on cake, even when they are just an accent. Combining frosting colors looks really beautiful and can make your cake more dynamic.
On a sheet of plastic wrap, line up your colors in a row next to each other. Fold over the plastic, cut one end, and slide the entire wrap into an icing bag. You’ll have beautiful multi-colored rosettes! Here is a great tutorial from Icing On Top.
I used Wilton Open Star tips, No. 1M, No. 199 and No. 18. I also used a No. 30 Ateco Closed Star tip. These tips can usually be found at Walmart, JoAnns, and Michaels. Plus, various online stores and Amazon. I am not affiliated with any of these stores.
It can be hard to get a true red or blue when adding food coloring to frosting. The more you add, the more possibility it will change the taste and consistency. I switched to AmeriColor. Their colors are amazing! You can purchase directly through them, Amazon and other online baking supply stores.
This cake recipe can be made using raspberries or, no berries at all. Keep it simple and just add berries to the top. The syrup and puree are optional if you just want a good, moist cake you can have fun decorating with kids.
NO TIME TO BAKE FROM SCRATCH: grab a box of your favorite cake mix, combine ingredients according to the instructions, add the strawberry puree, and voilà, more time to focus on other dishes! Works with chocolate box cake, too.
Patriotic Strawberry Cake
- 9×13-inch baking pan
- KitchenAid® Professional 600 Series Mixer
- Food processor
- Rubber spatula
- Medium bowl
- Large measuring cup
- 1 Toothpick
- Pastry brush
- Medium sauce pan
- Icing bags
- Icing tip – various
- Icing scraper
- Icing spatula
- Food coloring
- 2½ cups cake flour sifted (or 2¼ cups all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks) room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cup buttermilk (make your own)
- 1 tbsp strawberry simple syrup
STRAWBERRY PUREE (make day before)
- 1 pound strawberries ripe
STRAWBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP (make day before)
- 8 oz strawberries ripe, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp whole milk
- 1 tsp strawberry simple syrup
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine sifted cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- If making buttermilk, combine ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or small bowl and set aside to allow coagulation. I used whole milk and vinegar to make buttermilk for this cake.
- Using a stand up or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract to the buttermillk in the measuring cup and stir together.
- With mixer on low, alternate the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture until all ingredients are just combined. Do not over-mix the batter. Make sure to scrape down the sides during the process.
- Fold strawberry puree into batter.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Adjust time slightly according to your oven. My oven time was 37 minutes. Toothpick should come out mostly clean when checked in the center. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
- Careful not to over-bake as the cake will continue to cook for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.
- Puree fresh, ripe strawberries in a food processor, or blender.
- In a medium sauce pan, reduce puree on the stove by heating on low-medium heat until reduced to about ½ cup. Usually, about 30 minutes. More time depending on your pan and the juiciness of the berries. Do not add sugar to the puree.
- Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container. Refrgerate if not using right away. Make sure to bring the puree back up to room temperature before adding to batter.
STRAWBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP
- In a small sauce pan, combine chopped strawberries, water and sugar over medium-high heat and bring to a boil
- As the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature then strain. Store in refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
- In a large bowl, use a stand-up or hand mixer to cream butter. Add powdered sugar and combine completely.
- Add milk, vanilla extract and salt. ** Replace vanilla extract with strawberry simple syrup if you want more berry flavor in the butttercream.
- Beat for 3 to 5 minutes until smooth and creamy and you reach your desired consistency.