Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

When it comes to my culinary creations, my Mother is my biggest support and fan. She will try everything I make and is always very encouraging. I think I inherited my cooking/baking gene from her, while she doesn't do a lot of baking now, mainly because I do enough to keep her fridge and freezer stocked for months but when I was growing up I remember her in the kitchen baking and cooking. We always had a home cooked meal every night, even though she worked full time. In the "take out" society we now live in I thank my Mother for instilling in me the value and importance of a home cooked meal and even though I do not have children, I make sure my husband and I enjoy a hot home cooked meal; don't get me wrong once in a while "take out" is okay, but nothing beats homemade.

In honor of Mother's Day this year I decided to make this beautiful strawberry cake from a blog that I frequent Good Things Catered. While mine didn't turn out exactly like Katie's and kind of ended up looking like something out of a Flinstone's episode, the taste more than made up for the aesthetics of it. It was my first time attempting to make my own lady fingers and trying to pipe them somewhat similar in size was a bit of a challenge for me, as you can see by my photo, which by the way is also not the best picture since I remembered to snap a shot of the cake while I was in my garage getting ready to load it into the car and take it to my mothers. I did make a couple changes to Katie's original recipe which you can find on her blog, so I will post my adapted version here. Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Joy of Baking

1 c. cake flour, sifted
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
10 Tbsp granulated white sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbsp granulated white sugar

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.
-In bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, add egg yolk and 2 Tbsp sugar.
-Beat on high until light yellow in color and when paddle is take out of mixture, soft ribbons form, about 10 minutes.
-Beat in vanilla.
-Remove bowl from mixer and sift flour over top of mixture(but do not fold in) and set aside.
-Using clean mixer bowl and cleaned paddle attachment, beat egg whites until foamy, then add cream of tartar.
-Beat until soft peaks form and add sugar.
-Keep beating until stiff peaks form.-Scrape egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture bowl and carefully fold flour and egg mixtures together.
-Place into pastry bags and pipe onto lined baking sheets.
-Place into oven and bake for 9-10 minutes.-Remove promptly and let cool.
-Serve or put lady fingers to use immediately or freeze to store (they go stale very fast).

Lady Strawberry Cake
Adapted from
Good Things Catered
2 1/4 c. cake flour
3/4 c. strawberry puree, room temperature (homemade or you can find store bought in form of a good quality strawberry daiquiri mix as well)
1/4 c. milk , at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened (not melted)

Whipped Strawberry filling:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup diced strawberries
Icing sugar to taste

Buttercream frosting:
1/2 c. shortening
½ c. unsalted butter
8 Tbsp milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tiny pinch of salt
2 c. fresh strawberries
1 batch ladyfingers, piped about 3 1/2 - 4 inches in length

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Line bottom of two 8 inch pans with parchment paper and spray inside with baking spray (I use Wiltons)
-In small bowl, combine strawberry puree, milk, egg, vanilla and whisk until combined well.-In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.
-Continue beating at slow speed and add butter.
-Mix until combined and mixture resembles moist crumbs.
-Add liquid ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined.
-Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.
-Divide the batter evenly among pans and smooth tops.
-Place pans into oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
-Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks.
-Let cakes cool completely, about 2 hours.
-To make strawberry whipped filling: in bowl of stand mixer, beat whipping cream with vanilla extract until thick, add icing sugar to taste, fold in diced strawberries.
-To make buttercream: in bowl of stand mixture add shortening, unsalted butter, 4 Tbsp milk and vanilla.
-Stir on low, occasionally scraping down paddle and sides, to combine -- this takes a few minutes. Be patient and do now beat faster than the low setting or you will add air to the buttercream.
-Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine powdered sugar and salt and whisk to combine.
-Once shortening mixture is relatively homogeneous, add sugar mixture and stir on low to combine. You will probably need to scrape down the bowl and paddle a few times here. Again, do not increase mixing speed.
-Slowly add additional milk to obtain desired texture. You are looking for a classic thin consistency here.
-When cakes are cooled, level tops.
-Fill first layer of cake with whipped strawberry filling.
-Top strawberry layer with second cake.-Remove tops from strawberries and slice all but one small strawberry (which you will keep whole)-Dollop about 3/4 of the buttercream mixture onto the top of the cake and using a spatula, spread icing over the top and down the sides.
-Use additional frosting to ice the sides and fix any mistakes.
-Place lady fingers around the sides of the cake, pressing lightly into the buttercream to stabilize.
-Cut a piece of ribbon, if desired, and tie a bow to decorate.
-Working from the outside in, lay remaining strawberry slices in concentric circles on the top of the cake until you reach the middle.
-Place the one small whole strawberry in the middle and serve.

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