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Sunday, May 29, 2011

A big slice of strawberry cake will make it better

I love obscure sounding baked goods. Sure I like cheesecake and cherry pie, but key lime pie and strawberry cake just sound simple and exotic enough to really pique my interest and make me want to not just eat them, but make them.

So when I read in the latest issue of Saveur and saw it contained this wonderful sounding Charleston, South Carolina menu with traditional Southern soul food, I had to try my hand at strawberry cake:

Strawberry Cake (from Saveur, with my slight changes)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
3 cups flour, plus more for pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3 tablespoons red food coloring (this is listed as optional but I say essential if you wanna create that technicolor wonderfulness)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon strawberry extract (if you can find it)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together milk, jam, and 2 tablespoons food coloring in a small bowl; set aside. Beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and smooth, 2–3 minutes. In 3 additions, alternately add dry and wet ingredients to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with dry; mix until combined. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops; bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cakes comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, unmold, then cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese on high speed of a mixer until smooth and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add remaining food coloring, confectioners’ sugar, and strawberry extract; beat until smooth. Place one cake upside down on a cake stand, and spread 13 frosting over top. Cover with second cake, top side up; frost top and sides of cakes with remaining frosting; refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature.

It was so good. Like everything in the states, this cake is huge so be sure to have lots of friends who want to try it.

Kinda looks like a vagina.

So what makes strawberry cake Southern? Apparently they really like layers in a cake, and this is a classic one. Also Southerners like showy things and this cake, if you tarted it up with real strawberries, could be a real showstopper. Sweets are big down there too. How is anyone skinny in the South? I know they exist, but HOW? Every time I turn around and make a Southern recipe I gain 10lbs. Bullshit.

The 9 year old ballerina in me loves this cake. She's still alive, but instead of a pony and a prince, grown-up her wants a diversified portfolio of solid investments and someone acceptable to eat a steak with, who knows when to leave. My standards are lower, but I'm happier: I was a distinctly uncomfortable child, and the older I've got, the more comfortable and correct I feel. So it's nice when I can see and make things that remind me of the nice parts of being a kid. And this cake is definitely one of those things. Saccharine-and-technicolor foods hold such allure for kids, except for me it might have been more so: there was absolutely nothing like this to be found in our house. I've talked before about my mother's very healthy philosophy towards eating before on this blog, which was adapted even further upon her discovery of her food allergies. A cake like this would simply be a sacrilege to her. I can see the face she would make if she found this in my kitchen. Which may explain why she's a size 4 and I'm, well, not.

I love the idea of soul food. Something so delicious and comforting it's a Balm of Gilead for all the parts of your weary self. I just know I'm going to end up making this cake a lot. The icing is so sweet it makes your teeth ache, but the cake is wonderfully soft and rich and fluffy. I hunted high and low for strawberry extract for the icing, but couldn't find it anywhere. Not so common in Canada, apparently, though banana extract is. Seriously, banana extract. Go to the shelf and look next time you're in Safeway.

I seriously can't wait for the next time someone has a birthday so I can make this again! Also convenient for me is that this cake is supergay, meaning I have occasion to make it even more.


  1. Wow it looks amazing!! And vagina'ish too :D

  2. I want this in cupcake form!

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