>Pretty in Pink

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Wow – the strawberries in the stores right now are GORGEOUS, aren’t they?  I mean, how can you resist them?  
My 4-year-old LOVES strawberries – would eat his weight in them if I’d let him I think.  As such, when they’re in season I purchase them weekly.  
This week, I bought double, just because they were so affordable and beautiful.  I decided to use them in our Easter dessert – an Easter bunny cake that we’ve made in my family since I was a child.  I’ll post the how-to for the bunny cake over on Foodwhirl tomorrow, but I wanted to post the Pink Lady Cake recipe here today.  This is an adaptation from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who adapted hers from the Sky High cake cookbook.  I cut hers by 1/3 because I only needed two 8-inch layers.  This is one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made.  No whipping egg whites and folding carefully; no creaming butter and sugar ’til light and fluffy; just straight up mixing and baking.  I love it.

Ingredients:
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cups pureed fresh strawberries
5 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye, if using (to make the pink color pop more)

1. Preheat the oven to 350»F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.  Or use baking spray – that’s what I did.

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 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.

Now, Deb frosted hers with cream-cheese frosting.  I decided to do a white-chocolate butter cream for mine.  I’m in love with swiss meringue butter cream, and it really lends itself well to various flavorings.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 sticks butter, softened
4 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled

1. Combine first four ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 160F.

2.  Move mixing bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Whisk on high until stiff peaks form and mixture has cooled.  Slowly add softened butter until combined (may look curdled at first, but keep mixing – it will smooth out).

3.  Add cooled white chocolate and mix to incorporate.

Technically, this cake is for Easter.  However, to make the bunny you have to trim some bits off of one of the layers, so I decided to sneak a taste today.

I think it could have had more strawberry flavor – it was very subtle.  The color was a very lovely light pink shade, and the texture was moist and tender.

The frosting could have had more white chocolate flavor, also.  I think next time I’ll do 8 oz. of chocolate instead of just 4 (I only had 8 total, and I needed four to grate and sprinkle over the finished bunny cake).

All-in-all I’ll count it as a success.  I think with some tweaking, it could be quite good.  I know there’s a reason most people use strawberry flavored gelatin in their strawberry cakes – it really does lend color and flavor to the mix.  However, I’m determined to find a great all-natural version that’s just as good.  I think this one gets me well on my way.

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3 thoughts on “>Pretty in Pink

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