Finally...The Perfect Strawberry Cake

This week, one of our True40 Auburn instructors, Molly Swanson, talks about the perfect recipe for strawberry cake and strawberry buttercream….

I’m all about a celebration.

Especially when dessert is involved. Every year I make a special dessert for each of my family member’s birthdays. The list is (almost) the same year in and year out.

Dad: Pecan pie

Mom: Fruit pizza

Brother: Red velvet cookies

Sister: Strawberry shortcake

But, my other sister, like me, loves it all. One year its chocolate the next we’re onto fruity. So as her big day approached, I asked her what dessert she wanted.

“Strawberry cake.”

Hmmm. Ok.

Now, it’s not that I dislike making strawberry cake. And I most definitely don’t dislike eating it. I just hadn’t found the “perfect” strawberry cake recipe yet, which is quite unsettling for us perfectionists. Over the years I had tried a few that were good. Quite honestly, they were great, and every last crumb was eaten. But, it just wasn’t the best. However, I was determined. This was going to be the year.

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If you’ve ever made a strawberry cake you know my struggle. Most recipes you find use a box mix and a packet of strawberry Jell-O. This combo never disappoints on flavor and moisture, but it doesn’t have that light airy homemade bakery quality I was going for. I just KNEW there had to be a recipe out there that used only fresh strawberries but still packed a strong flavor punch.

Originally, I was going to take you through the three recipes I tested. Detailing the ins and outs of what I did and didn’t like about each one. But then…I found it. The most to-die-for strawberry cake to ever live. Forget the rest, I want to tell you all about this fluffy, baby pink, fresh strawberry studded beauty.

This strawberry cake recipe comes from sallysbakingaddiction.com - One of my favorite blogs to start with when recipe testing! She gives such great tips and her recipes always deliver on flavor. Thanks Sally!

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This recipe starts by cooking a pound of strawberries down to about half a cup of thick, concentrated strawberry puree. That way, we get all the strawberry flavor with none of the extra water in the berries that can leave your cake dense and saggy (if that’s a word). Not what we want!

My biggest piece of advice when making this cake is to follow the instructions to a tee! Room temperature ingredients and the amount of time that you mix the ingredients make all the difference in the texture of the cake. So, that means plan ahead. You’ll want to set your ingredients our first thing in the morning and really give them time to come to room temp.

Now, onto the icing. This icing is creamy, sweet and what every cupcake dreams of being paired with. I have a friend who relentlessly scrapes off her icing and it pains me a little every time.

Sally used her cream cheese icing and folds in freeze dried strawberries. However, strawberry buttercream has my heart and I wasn’t ready to veer away from it quite yet! Using real strawberries gives icing a great flavor, but acid from the berries causes the butter to break, so enter…strawberry jam! Using jam in buttercream keeps the smooth spreadable consistency and the flavor will blow you away.

This buttercream recipe is one that I have tweaked and changed over time and now it is just right!

So, here it is, ready for the birthday debut: The perfect strawberry cake recipe!

Click here for the cake recipe. This recipe makes 2 9-inch layers, 3 8-inch layers or 36 cupcakes.

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Strawberry Buttercream:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter – room temp
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup of strawberry jam (Welch’s or Smucker’s works great) - feel free to add more to taste, but add little by little

Directions

  • Beat butter for 2 minutes with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Add vanilla, salt, cream, jam and half of the powdered sugar. Mix until powdered sugar is         mixed in.
  • Add in the rest of the powdered sugar and mix for about 2 minutes.