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Jul 28, 2009 07:13 PM

strawberry birthday cake ??

My very soon to be 3 year old has definite ideas about her birthday and has asked for a "strawberry birthday cake". I think she has a pink frosted, strawberry flavored traditional cake in mind but I'm only finding box mix + jello cakes in this vein and frankly, I just don't want to go there.
My ideas so far:

1) Make a simple white or yellow cake with a goodly dollop of my homemade strawberry preserves for color and a bit of flavor in both cake and simple frosting. Quick, but it feels almost like cheating.

2) Red Velvet cake with pink frosting. Better, but to get that real "red velvet" look, I believe we're still on the red food coloring train.

3) Skip the "traditional" and go for fruit, whipped cream, and cake in layers. This is what I'd do for an adult, but it doesn't have that birthday look that I think she's expecting.

4) Cupcakes with a whole strawberry inside and outrageous pink piped frosting, topped with another whole berry on top. Just because it sounds like fun and 3 year olds loooove cupcakes.

Any ideas out there? I've got three days to get this together.

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  1. Ina Garten's Strawberry Country Cake is fabulous. Here is the link to FTV so jus type in Strawberry Country Cake.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcel215

      Yes! Exactly what I had in mind for #3, but I think she'd give me that look that says... "Aw mom, where's the *birthday* cake". I'll keep this filed for later though.

      1. re: icicle

        In my family, we have two Birthday cakes. Now you are going to think I'll say, one for the kids and one for the adults right? Nope. We are divided, but not by age.
        There are the lard lovers frosting cake (blech), and the whipped cream frosting cake (yum), sides in the family! ;)

    2. If she wants pink frosting, I'd give it to her. It's only once a year - inner critic be damned.
      I'd also let the kids add toppings - gummi bears, mini- m&m's, sprinkles, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ola

        Definitely there should be pink frosting, I think.
        Actually, though it sounds so sad (but it's really not), my kid will be the only child there -- the consequence of living in a rural state with few friends or family nearby. If there were more kids involved, I'd probably just go with the option #1 and call it good enough.

      2. Since 3-year olds love cupcakes, try this:

        I got it by googling "Le Fraisier Cake", which is a traditional French strawberry cake that consists of a layer of square genoise, then a layer of buttercream, then strawberries embedded upright but upside down in the buttercream, then more buttercream, then another layer of cake, and then a thin layer of green-tinted marzipan. The sides are then trimmed to reveal cut strawberries; the trimmings are great to eat. I have made it a few times; it is time-consuming but easy.

        14 Replies
        1. re: souschef

          wow!... this is what I want for my birthday!

          1. re: icicle

            I found you a picture (the marzipan is tinted pink, but you get the idea):


            1. re: souschef

              That is a beautiful presentation! What a lovely summer treat. I like your taste in dessert, souschef. :-)

              1. re: toveggiegirl

                I made the cake again, for a birthday party today. I wanted a bit more texture in the cake so decided to mix some ground pistachios into the batter. As well, my wife suggested that I make it a chocolate cake, so I did. I never have luck with cocoa cakes (they turn out too dry or leaden), so I borrowed from what I do when I make chocolate madeleines - I melted some chocolate with the butter. It turned out well, but in retrospect I prefer plain Genoise in that cake.

                I did not use the recipe I linked for the filling as I have never made mousseline cream before and did not have time to experiment (I also do not like to use cornstarch as a thickening agent), so instead I made buttercream, using the recipe in The Cake Bible.. The cake was 12" x 12", so I used 2 lbs of butter in the buttercream - a tribute to cholesterol, considering there were 12 egg yolks in there too ! I was amazed that after sitting out of the fridge for 4 hours, albeit in an air-conditioned house, the buttercrem did not soften as much as I would have liked it to. It was more flavourful (naturally) when freshly-made and soft. I needed a neutral but boozy taste, so used kirsch.

                Attached is a picture. Please excuse the sloppy lettering - I'm great at drafting but not so good doing lettering in chocolate !

                1. re: souschef

                  My gosh, GREAT job yourself, souschef! Jada must have been delighted with this beautiful creation.

                  1. re: fern

                    Thank you. Yes, she was really delighted to have that cake....and made by her favourite uncle.

                  2. re: souschef

                    I had to make another birthday cake, so decided to make the strawberry cake again, but this time did not mess around with chocolate or nuts; I made plain Genoise instead. It turned out well, but the cake part is perhaps a bit too thick - picture attached. The taste was great - I used Cointreau in the buttercream and in the soaking syrup.

                    Again, even after sitting out 4 hrs the buttercream did not soften as much as I would have liked. I will try mousseline cream the next time.

                    For decoration I used strawberries dipped in hard crack sugar - closeup picture attached. It looks very attractive, but the sugar tends to melt and weep very quickly. The taste of the strawberries is amazing - the contrast of the crunch of the sugar and soft strawberry is really good, and it makes the strawberry seem sweeter.

                    1. re: souschef

                      OMG, that looks so beautiful! Angie is one lucky lady!

                    2. re: souschef

                      Your cakes are stunning. I'm sure they appreciate the labor of love (even if they have no idea how much work is involved).

                      As lettering in chocolate goes, have you tried doing it off the cake on a transparency, or sheet of florist paper? I do calligraphy so I write it out, scan it in the computer, size it and print it. I put the sheet below the transparency and then pipe/trace. You can just write it out and not use the computer at all. After it dries, you just peel it off. But, it only works well w/ script. Great way to add decorations, too. And, if you make a mistake, you can do it until you get it right (and eat the mistakes).

                      1. re: chowser

                        Thanks for the compliment chowser.

                        I have considered doing the lettering on acetate, but always end up being in a hurry and doing it directly on the cake. I should really do it before, and using royal icing, which I find easier to control than chocolate.

                        Why does it work well only with script?

                        1. re: souschef

                          Because you'd have to peel each individual letter and apply if they were stand alone. Not impossible but I'm far too lazy!. I did try (one attempt as my avatar) to do it in reverse, pour dark chocolate on it and flip it over. I then had to rewrite it to tighten up the letters. For too much effort, considering the lettering itself took an afternoon.

                          1. re: chowser

                            chowser, I'm an engineer, not an artist, so I do block writing well, but not script. Do you have a source for script that holds up well when done in chocolate? I'm looking for osmething that does not have lots of curlicues, etc.

                            1. re: souschef

                              This probably won't help but I do copperplate like hand with minimal thick and thin lines and no flourishes. It's similar to handwriting but I like the way the letters are made a little more. I don't use the transfer paper for it now but it was helpful when I first started w/ cakes. Sorry I'm not more helpful but I do think your cakes are beautiful the way they are!

                  3. re: souschef

                    That is lovely. Thank you for the link -- I'm bookmarking this for when I have more time. Luckily, I even read French!

              2. If you can find them, freeze dried strawberries work great. Trader Joes carries them, and you can sometimes find them in the natural food section of some grocery stores. I pulverize them to a powder in the food processor and sift out the seeds. You can add the powder to the batter as well as the frosting without adding the additional liquid of a fresh strawberry puree.

                13 Replies
                1. re: gmm

                  What a clever idea! I can't wait to make a strawberry cake and try it out.

                  I've used this recipe with success before:


                  It does use a box of jello, but it's a scratch recipe cake, and doesn't start from a mix. It's very pink, has a nice strawberry flavor, and is always a hit with my now-five-year-old daughter and her crowd.

                  1. re: modthyrth

                    Oh, I like this idea! It's not the jello so much as the boxed mix that turned me off so many similar recipes. Thanks so much for the link!

                    1. re: icicle

                      FYI for those in the same situation -- I found Strawberry "Jel" dessert at my local Co-op -- no artificial colors, flavors or dyes (they use beet juice). But It does say "quick setting, unlike gelatin" so this may not be ideal for adding to cake bases.

                  2. re: gmm

                    Great idea! No Trader Joes or Whole Foods in Vermont (yet!) but there is King Arthur Flour. I'll have to check to see if they carry these...

                    1. re: icicle

                      I've not checked, but I've also heard that some sporting goods stores carry them in their camping/hiking foods section.

                      1. re: gmm

                        Ironically, I found them in my cereal this morning (hubby bought some Newman's "Flakes & Strawberries"). I'll admit that, for 30 seconds, I thought about raiding the box for the rest ... :)

                    2. re: gmm

                      Anybody have a suggestion on proportion for this version? I'm going to play around today or tomorrow if you have any advice. Otherwise I'll post my experience.

                      1. re: kindofabigdeal

                        First try: This is my go-to butter cake recipe, so I started here

                        I know this sounds appalling, but I add 1/4 cup of oil after the creaming of butter and sugar, because having a little oil in there really boosts the moistness. I also find that a whole tablespoon of baking powder is a bit too much and gives it a bit of an alkaline taste, so once its level, i knock a little off the spoon(you could also add some more acid). Finally, 40 minutes is a long enough baking time.

                        For my experiment I halved the recipe and used one container of "just strawberries" freeze dried strawberries, which is 1.5 ozs by weight, ground them up and added them after adding the oil. When I make the full recipe I might try using 3 containers ($$$), but with just one the flavor was wonderful. Unlike any cake I've had. I went to sprinkles today to compare to their strawberry cupcake. The cake itself tastes barely, if at all, of strawberry.

                        1. re: kindofabigdeal

                          Your link does not bring up a cake recipe.

                          1. re: kindofabigdeal

                            I agree - it can get a little pricey, but I think the flavor is so much better than using strawberry flavorings or jello. I've only used the FD berries for cupcakes rather than a whole cake. For two dozen cupcakes and half batch of Ina Garten's cream cheese frosting, I'll use two bags of Trader Joe's FD strawberries. I break up some of the berries into little pieces to add to the cake batter and pulverize the rest. I have added too much of the powder to the frosting before, it still tasted good but the tartness almost overwhelmed the cream cheese flavor. What kind of frosting did you use?

                            1. re: gmm

                              I made no frosting, since it was just a test, but i was thinking of a swiss meringue. That or good old cream cheese.

                              My concern with the price is that lots of people would probably prefer the jello strawberry flavor, as fake as it is.

                              Also, that link was to their "moist butter cake" so just search for it.

                      2. Since it's mostly for adults, I'd go with option three: make a genoise and brush w/ a strawberry simple syrup. Use a mascarpone whipped cream filling mixed w/ strawberries. Use plain mascarpone whipped cream to frost and then add strawberries for decoration. You won't get that bright pink cake but I don't think you'll get it w/out the dye.

                        I did a search, though, and found this strawberry cake from scratch. It does use red dye but you could leave it out. It's along the idea of your #1 idea (which I wouldn't do w/ just any cake recipe because the preserves would might chage the liquid/dry and sugar, weight ratio--it could work but I'd do a sample first before).