Biggest Small requested strawberry cake for Grandad's birthday and only real strawberries in the cake mix would do. No amount of suggesting we simply decorate with the berries would cut it. She had her idea and she was determined to see it through, so I set about making baking with fruit as simple as possible. The answer was a strawberry reduction added to the cake mix and used in both the filling and frosting. Heating strawberries for 20 minutes is obviously not something you would ideally do with smalls, but possible to do ages in advance when you've got mushy strawbs in the fridge or a bag of frozen needing purpose. The reduction will freeze and keep well until you need it. Once you've got that bit in the bag, the actual bake is easy peasy and it tastes incredible.
Biggest Small is now 2.5 and perfectly capable of conducting a whole bake solo with pre-weighed ingredients. Whilst it brings me great joy to see her confidently whipping up a glorious confection it does mean that I have to let go. This would be the perfect part cake for a princess, unicorn, magical, fairy party, but I had not chance to demonstrate that as the toddler was straight in there with the frosting and the sprinkles, but I don't think it turned out too badly for all that and it meant that she and Grandad loved it even more. If I've got time I'll re-make the cake at some point as a little birthday cake tutorial. In the meantime, here's the recipe for the incredibly yummy strawberry smush that celebrated Grandad's 69th birthday.
For the strawberry Reduction
3 punnets of chopped strawberries or frozen equivellent
A cupful of sugar
Squeeze of lemon
Tiny pinch of salt
For the cake
200g unsalted butter
200g golden caster sugar
1 tsp really good vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
3 x 15cm cake tins, greased and lined on the base.
Half of your strawberry reduction.
To make the strawberry reduction, simply heat the ingredients on the hob for 20 minutes or until you have a thick, jam like substance. It will smell amazing and dollop satisfactorily off a spoon. This can then be frozen and used when you're ready.
For the Cake
1. Mix the butter, vanilla extract and sugar until creamy and just combined.
2. Add the eggs along with a few tablespoons of the flour and mix until combined.
3. Add the flour and combine one last time before adding approximately half of your strawberry reduction.
4. tip the mixture as equally as possible into the three prepared 15cm tins. Greased and lined.
5. Bake for 25 minutes at 180° then cool on a wire rack.
If you want the cake to be bright pink inside, you'll need to add quite a bit of pink food colouring to the mixture. Colour fades during cooking, so more is more in this situation.
The strawberry reduction adds a lot of sweetness to the cake, so you don't need to smother it in frosting. I used my quick cream cheese frosting, which you can find here and added a big spoonful of the strawberry reduction. The rest of the sticky strawberries went between each layer with the strawberry frosting on top. There was no need to ice the sides. This was quite enough sweetness, which was nicely balanced by the cream cheese. To get a nice, straight cake you will need to 'trim' the top of each cake if it is domed. Use a sharp bread knife or cake slice.