Strawberry Birthday Cake, and not from a box

Another reason I miss my recipe notebook acutely at this time of year is BIRTHDAYS.  Lots and lots of birthdays.  Jake’s is January 27, John AND Emily’s is February 4, Teddy’s is February 15, and William’s is March 5.  That’s a lot of cake.
We’ve been through one whole set of birthdays since the fire, so I’ve rounded up all the tried and true cake recipes.  Jake had Milky Way Cake this year, and John had Strawberry Cake.
Ah, Strawberry Cake.  Twenty-five years ago was John’s first birthday with us as a couple.  It was a fantastic birthday–my gift to him was his college ring, and my roommate and her boyfriend and I “kidnapped” him and took him to the Kennedy Center to see HMS Pinafore.  And I baked him the first of many birthday cakes.
“What kind of cake do you want?” I asked him.  And he, no doubt envisioning a box of pink nastiness from the grocery store shelf, asked for a strawberry cake.
My mother did not have a recipe for strawberry cake.  The Georgetown University Library is not exactly overflowing with cookbooks.  And there was no Internet to consult.  And I haven’t used a box cake mix since I was maybe 12.  So I set out to invent my own recipe.
I don’t remember what I did, but although I am sure John appreciated my efforts, he probably would have preferred the box.
John bday 22
 
But I got better, and I’ve had years to work on my recipe.  The one I made this year was the best one ever, and I am pleased to share it with you. 🙂
It starts with a recipe called “Old-Fashioned White Birthday Cake.”  That came out of one of my mother’s cookbooks years ago.  Then I added some things (strawberries!).
Ingredients:
One container of strawberries, washed and drained
sugar to taste
1 c. butter, softened (REAL butter, mind you.  Don’t you dare use that nasty margarine.)
2 c. sugar
3.5 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3.5 t. baking powder
milk
1 t. vanilla
8 egg whites
1/8 t. salt
It helps if you are an experienced baker when you make this cake, because I cannot give you exact measurements for the strawberry part of this.  Slice up the strawberries and puree them in your blender with enough sugar so that they are not tart.  If you need to add milk to get them pureed, you can.  Sometimes I’ve needed to; this time I did not.  You want to end up with about 1.5 cups of liquefied strawberry.
Halve the remaining strawberries and reserve.
Cream butter and sugar.  Add salt and baking powder and beat well.  Add vanilla and beat.  Add flour, alternating with liquid strawberries, beginning and ending with flour.  The recipe calls for 1 cup liquid.  If it doesn’t look like cake batter should, you can add more.  This is where experience comes in handy!
Now wash your beaters and beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  (I gave all the yolks to the dog, but you can use the for scrambled eggs or french toast!) Add 1/8 t. salt to the beaten whites.  Fold lightly into cake batter.
Grease two round cake pans and dust with powdered sugar, and pour in your batter.  Bake at 350 until done.  I know that is not very exact, but the recipe really calls for 1 hour in a tube pan.  I started checking at 30 minutes.
When your cake is cool, spread the bottom layer with strawberry preserves.  Actually, I use one of the “all-fruit” strawberry spreads.  Make a basic buttercream frosting, and thin as needed with the rest of your strawberry juice for color and flavor.  Frost cake, and garnish with sliced strawberries.  Everyone will tell you it is the best cake they ever ate.
strawberry cake

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  1. My first birthday cake for my husband, Bruce, was awful! As I insisted on making it from scratch, he listened scratching his head. He ate it, but I knew it was no good. Since then I have made his favorite – German Chocolate cake from a box with icing from a tub. He loves it! I save the made-from-scratch ones for my kids now. And I have gotten so much better at it.

  2. maggie may says:

    This is so charming! I want a piece 🙂 I’m pinning this 🙂

  1. January 2, 2014

    […] 2: February.  John’s birthday cake.  My own secret recipe, and symbolic of the many cakes I bake at that time of year . . . which is coming right […]

  2. March 26, 2015

    […] Before I was a blogger, I was a columnist for the local Catholic newspaper.  Because I was the chair of the Diocesan Respect Life Committee at the time, the topic of my column was life issues.  So I wrote about abortion, the death penalty, birth control, assisted reproductive technology, war–basically anything that could fit under the umbrella of respecting life “from the womb to the tomb.”  When I started blogging, I took the name of my column for my blog, and I was excited to have a platform to write about basically everything.  I figure if it’s in my life, it’s pretty much a life issue, right?  I like the title because I think it reflects the broad and eclectic nature of my blog.  I’m not a niche blogger.  You are never going to know what to expect when you come here.  Maybe one day I will be writing about politics and the next I’m reviewing my latest nature hike.  One day I’m sharing pictures and history of a local graveyard and the next I’m explaining my parenting philosophy.  You might even spot a recipe or two. […]

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