I love having my own place. I am coming up on my one year anniversary in my apartment and I would like to take a moment to point out all of the stellar points of single living. I can bake pink cakes late at night and no one cares. I can bathe my place in shades of pink and purple and no one is around to complain. I can fall asleep on the couch while watching the Golden Girls, fill my fridge with sweets, make whatever I want for dinner, workout when I want, play whatever music I want, have my kitchen table piled high with newspapers, bills, my camera, my cooking magazines and no one says a word! Yes, I do have a little man that lives with me the majority of the time and he has absolutely no objection to all of my little quirks as long as I give him a ton of love and play monster trucks with him. To say that I am one lucky lady would be an understatement.
So, now you know that I was baking pink cake and cupcakes a few nights ago while the rest of the world slept. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. The thought of a strawberry puree inside a cake with cream cheese frosting was just too fantastic to pass up. Of course, my inner child was inextricably drawn to the pink cake with mounds of white and pink frosting everywhere. That same child was also over the moon upon tasting the finished product. Delicious! The taste, smell and look of the cake reminded me of my Strawberry Shortcake obsession when I was young. I wanted to live her fantasy life of strawberries and sweets. I would say this cake and my life are pretty close to that fantasy, complete with the freckles sprinkled across her nose. All I need now is that huge pink hat she always had on and my childhood fantasy is complete.
Cheers to happy living and pink sweets everywhere! xoxo - AJ
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed fresh strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 drops red food gel
Cream cheese frosting
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 cups (2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray PAM and flour two 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. If you are doing cupcakes, line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
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. Add in the balsamic vinegar and mix to incorporate.
In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and red food dye 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 incorperate after each addition. Divide the batter among the two prepared pans and one muffin pan.
Important note: the cupcakes have a much shorter bake time! Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Bake the cupcakes in the same oven, next to the cakes for about 12-15 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the cakes from the sides. Invert and turn out onto wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.
Cream cheese frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add in the vanilla and then the confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl 3 to 4 times throughout the mixing process. Store in the refrigerator after use.
Frost and assemble the cake and cupcakes:
Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Spread about 2/3 cup frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, reserving a small amount if you wish to tint it and pipe a decoration on the cake. If not, you can decorate the cake top with thinly-sliced strawberries. Decorate the cupcakes with the same icing and sprinkle on sparkled pink sprinkles.