31 July 2012

Eats: Strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing (part 2)

Okay! So now we’ve gotten as far as making the strawberry puree for this fantastic anniversary cake, which may or may not actually be puree because the pulp is strained out, but whatever, the source (both, actually) called it “puree” so I did too. Call it whatever you want. No matter. We have it!

Now: time for CAKE. Which calls for cake flour (2 1/4 cups of it). Which I don’t have.

Fortunately, a bit of googling told me that I could use a combination of all-purpose flour plus cornstarch to create a cake flour substitute. The rule is one cup cake flour equals one cup all-purpose with two tablespoons removed and replaced with cornstarch. After a bit of math (I am married to a math teacher, after all) I realized that I basically needed two cups of all-purpose flour plus a quarter-cup of cornstarch.

In addition, I needed 1 3/4 sugar, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and a teaspoon of salt, all sifted together with the flour. Of course, I don’t actually own a sifter because I have never ever in my life sifted anything. I always just sort of… tossed it with a fork a little? But because this cake was a BIG DEAL, I decided to sift the dry ingredients together with the only substitute I could find: the same rusty strainer.

I mean, can you blame me? I told you how long it took me to make that puree-not-puree. And I had to solve math problems with fractions to figure out that cake flour substitution. I wasn’t going to blow this on unsifted flour.

After I sifted the dry ingredients together, I added one and a half sticks of very soft, room temperature butter and whisked it together in my stand mixer.

Then it was time to mix the wet ingredients, which included six egg whites. SIX. I can barely separate one egg. This called for a very elaborate egg-separating setup:

Amazingly, I got all six eggs de-yolked without breaking a yolk and wasting that egg! I meant to make something with the extra yolks, but I forgot (remember: company, traveling, etc.) so they went down the drain. For shame.

Those six egg whites got mixed with a half-cup of strawberry I’m-just-gonna-call-it-puree, half a cup of milk, two teaspoons of vanilla extract, and one teaspoon of almond extract (I love me some extracts, so that’s more than the source called for):

And then mixed that into the dry ingredients, waiting patiently in the stand mixer:

At this point, the recipe source pointed out that the batter isn’t going to get any redder than that. I wasn’t particularly interested in having a super red anniversary cake – I’m fine with all natural, baby. But if you want RED CAKE, this is the time to add food coloring.

Then I divided the batter evenly into two nine-inch layer cake pans, well-greased but without parchment paper, and baked for twenty-five minutes at 350 degrees.

So pretty! Except for a few things. I mentioned the lack of parchment paper because THIS:

D’oh! I thought I could douse anything with enough cooking spray to keep it from sticking, but alas. I learned my lesson.

There was also the unfortunate discovery that our oven rack is totally not level:

Rather than try to cut off any excess cake before stacking and icing them, though, I figured I could just stack the layers in such a way that the short side of one layer would rest on the tall side of the other. Yes? Maybe? And because I was NOT GOING TO MESS UP THIS CAKE AT THIS POINT, I set the bottom layer on the cake stand and labeled its high side (H) and low side with sticky flags.

Why yes I am a little bit of a perfectionist! How ever could you tell?

Okay, maybe that was overkill, but I felt like I probably pushed my luck separating all those eggs on the first try. Anyone who tells you that making this cake is not an elaborate adventure is a professional baker. Or they are lying to you.

Anyway, my plan worked! The un-level layers fit together just fine by alternating the high and low sides.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because of course before I stacked them, I had to wash up the mixing bowl and make the strawberry cream cheese icing with the rest of my liquid gold strawberry puree! The cake adventure concludes tomorrow!


Mary Beth said...

I wish you could pass out some samples to your blog readers! I can't wait to find out if it truly was the best cake ever...