Homemade Mother’s Day Gift

This year I was bound and determined to take advantage of my leet skeelz to bake up something awesome for my mom.  I had started out with the idea of doing some sort of nifty decoration on the cake.  That way you wouldn’t be able to see that I fail at icing a cake.

Betsy has made some mini orange cakes before that are absolutely amazing.  They are good in their small-cake or large-cup-cake size but I don’t think they’d translate well into something larger.  Plus I had no idea how to do something pretty on the top out of oranges.

You often see strawberries in neat designs on cakes so I headed that direction.  Orange + chocolate ganache + raw strawberries, certainly sounds like a bit too much.  Betsy started looking up strawberry cake recipes and emailed me a few.  I combined the icing from one recipe with the cake of another.

2 cups unbleached organic flour
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, melted
1 cup pureed strawberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
1/2 cup organic milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray) and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans or one 9×13 cake pan. Set aside. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat remaining ingredients together. Add to dry, beating with a wire whisk. Pour into prepared cake pans. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick.

I didn’t have any fancy organic flour / butter / milk or sea salt so I substituted them with, get this, regular versions.  Except for the milk, I used almond milk in place of that.  I haven’t had a chance to taste the cake yet (have to wait ’til Sunday) so not sure how that turned out.  I was cutting up strawberries for decoration so I made the puree fresh and ask any chef, fresh is best.

A couple of big notes about the cake batter:

1.  Mine was lumpy, this could be because I failed to melt my butter so it was chunky when I mixed it all together.  I tasted a few of the lumps and they were buttery so I figured it was okay.

2.  Assuming you make a fresh puree, this will be the best cake batter you’ve ever had.  It took a lot of effort to keep me from just eating the batter.

One of the magazines I read (no, not the ones that are pictures only) mentioned that after you take the cake out to cool it upside down.  That way it ends up flat and makes it easier to stack.  Genius idea!  I think they mean as soon as you take it out of the oven though.  I let it cool for a bit before flipping it over and it had almost no effect at all.

I wanted to use the icing recipe from the italian creamcake but Ms. B said that using the heavy cream recipe will make it lighter, so like a good boy I made that one instead.

2 (8 ounce) packages cream
cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream

In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Pour the heavy cream in a slow steady stream while the mixture is whipping until the mixture has fluffed up and can hold a stiff peak. Don’t let it get grainy looking though. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula occasionally to remove any lumps.

I made the icing way ahead of time so I stuck it in the fridge to chill (ha ha) while I waited on the cakes to cool.  When they were ready I started to ice them and noticed the icing had lost some of it’s umph.  It was the consistency of gummy bears on a summer day sitting on the dashboard.

Won’t let that stop me though.  I iced the cake and stuck it back in the fridge to see if maybe it would setup if it got chilled.

Didn’t work.

The icing was so runny that when I tried to put a strawberry on top it slid off.  I sure as hell wasn’t going to have any of that.  The whole reason for making this was to do a stupid strawberry decoration for Mother’s Day.

I scraped the icing off the cake and back into the bowl.  I grabbed my mixer-whisker and beat the fluff into the icing.  They had stiff’ish peaks when I put it in the icebox but I guess that’s where I messed up.  I simply didn’t beat it long enough.  The heavy cream never got fully agitated so it lost its structure and reverted back to cream.

Easy fix, just had to REALLY agitate it this time.

It worked.

Iced the cake.

Added strawberries.

This is the prettiest thing I’ve ever made.


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