Do you recall that one special Christmas season when--new to baking and eager to show off your skills--you decided to bake gingerbread cookies for the neighbors, and accidentally added cumin instead of ginger? I'm sure you remember throwing the cookie dough away in defeat, wondering if you'd ever bake again. That was a special Christmas, wasn't it? (True story in my life. December 2007. Awesome, Kylie).
Friends, yesterday marked an epic baking disaster of similar proportions. I enthusiastically set forth to bake Cooking Light's Strawberry Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for our family dinner. True to my tortoise-in-the-kitchen mantra, I slowly and methodically laid out the ingredients, ensuring the butter had softened to just the right temperature and the strawberries were pureed to the perfect consistency.
As I measured and mixed, I absent-mindedly nodded my head while Adam discussed genetic protein modification (standard procedure around here). Before I knew it, I had thoroughly mixed 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt to the batter.
Salt Cake anyone?
Pressing forth, like all devoted amateur bakers do, I baked the Salt Cake, topped it with Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, and called it Adam's (quite unhealthy) after-work snack for the week. Miraculously, he's enjoying it, and "saltiness" isn't quite as strong as one might expect.
The story ends happily though. During Round 2 of Cake-Baking Sunday, the Strawberry Layer Cake came out beautifully. The result was a very dense, moist cake with a sweet strawberry flavor. Because I love combining citrus flavors with berries, I added lemon zest and a splash of fresh lemon juice to the frosting. Ultimately, a nice summery dessert to conclude an August porch-dinner.
Lesson learned: Save the DNA-talk for after the cake goes in the oven.
Strawberry Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light magazine)
Cooking Light explains that, due to the dense nature of this cake, it doesn't rise very high. The cake ends up being pleasantly moist and quite tasty.
- 1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup milk or buttermilk
- Additional strawberries for garnish
- 4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- Splash of lemon juice
- Splash of vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- very finely grated zest of one lemon (about 1/2 tsp - 3/4 tsp.)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease to 8 inch round pans with cooking spray.
2) Place sliced strawberries in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
3) In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites.
4) Add flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter/sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add pureed strawberries and beat until just blended.
5) Divide batter evenly between the baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack, in pans, for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack completely.
6) To prepare frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar and lemon zest.
7) Place one cake layer on a plate and spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer and spread sides and top with remaining frosting. Garnish with additional strawberries.
Note: Avoid participating in lengthy discussions about DNA while creating this cake. If not, you may risk sodium overload for the day.