Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pink, Rich And Oh So Strawberry...What a Cake!

The traditional Mother's Day dessert when I was growing up was strawberry shortcake. There was yellow cake, fresh sliced strawberries and plenty of whipped cream. If we didn't have it for Mother's Day...sometimes the berries ripened a little late...we would have it for Mom's birthday toward the end of May. That combination of cake, strawberries and cream has always reminded me of my Mom.

This May the Cake Slice Bakers, baking from the wonderful The Southern Cake Book by Southern Living, had a number of choices but the immediate choice for me was the decadent Strawberry Mousse Cake. It has all of the features of the traditional strawberry shortcake, but in form that is more layered and more sophisticated. I baked it in a heart shaped pan to honor my Mom, who used to bake my birthday cake in a heart pan. The strawberry mousse filling was new to me and was really a key part of the recipe.  I know that I'm going to use it again, maybe with a blackberry puree instead of the strawberries. That would make a great filling for a spice cake when blackberries are in season.

The cake if a butter cake made from scratch and because you leave out the yolks of the eggs, it is a white cake. In the photo in the book it looked a bit dry, but I tried half the recipe out early as a coffee flavored cake and it was very moist. When I made a half recipe for the layer cake it was just a bit dryer, but that may have been because it was made in thin layers instead of a thicker loaf cake. It was still delicious and went really well with the soft and just sweet enough creamy mousse filling. For the icing I went with a traditional buttercream instead of the icing given in the recipe. Once you have had the silky smooth, rich wonderfulness of true buttercream, an icing of butter and confectioners sugar just doesn't cut it unless you are in a hurry. My daughter was here, too, so she was able to see how easy it is to make real buttercream as long as you have enough time.

I loved this cake. It was very rich, so slices were thin. Half a recipe (which is what I have given below) worked perfectly. There were even left overs for later. The pink mousse matched the pink buttercream and it looked just perfect on my grandmother's fluted glass cake plate. This recipe is going into the keeper file for sure!

Be sure to check out the other Cake Slice Bakers posts (see below recipe for links) to see which cake they made and how they made it their own. Hope you had as happy a Mother's Day as I did.

Strawberry Mousse Cake 
based on a cake in The Southern Cake Book
Serves 5-6

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter two  8" diameter cake pans. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a stand mixer, until mixture is fluffy. Gradually add egg whites, on-third at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, smooth the top with a spatula and rap the pans against the counter top twice, sharply, to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes, turning the pans half way around about half way through the baking time. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when cake is done. Remove to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes, then run a knife around the pans to loosen the cake and turn the cake out, cooling cakes right side up.

When completely cool, split cake in half horizontally, then fill with Strawberry Mousse (recipe below). Chill cake for 1 hour to firm up filling.
Frost top, then sides with Strawberry Buttercream, then chill cake at least an hour to firm up buttercream. Let cake sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before serving for best flavor. Garnish with fresh strawberries, flowers, or your choice of decor.
Strawberry Mousse
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to hydrate gelatin.
Process strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add gelatin to strawberry mixture, stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves. Cover mixture and chill about 20 minutes, until mixture is consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Stir occasionally to chill mixture evenly.
Beat whipping cream at low speed until foamy, then increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until well blended. Chill, covered, for 20 minutes, or just until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape when mounded. Use as filling for the cake above. Any leftovers can be enjoyed as a dessert. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
Strawberry Buttercream

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
12 tablespoons (1 ½  sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup fresh strawberries, cap removed and finely chopped

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water (but don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot, about 3 minutes.

2. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddles and beat in the softened butter a few small pieces at a time, and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth, about 6 – 10 minutes. Once the buttercream is smooth, add the finely chopped fresh strawberries, beating until everything is smooth again. It may take 5-10 minutes of beating.

3. Put half the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Use an offset spatula frost the top of the cake, then pipe rosettes of buttercream on the sides of the cake and decorate as you like. Any leftover buttercream can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

This is a half recipe. If you prefer to skip the mousse, double the buttercream recipe and use to both fill and frost the cake.

Here are the other Cake Slice Bakers posts to view:


Anabel said...

This cake couldn't had been more perfect for Mothers Day! Love strawberry! Im glad the recipe turned out delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

Sandra Lee said...

It's nice to hear that this cake brings back fond memories for you and I love that you baked it in a heart pan. Your idea of using blackberries next time sounds great. Great job!

The Ninja Baker said...

What a wonderful way to honor your mother, Elle. What a sweet memory, too, to have heart shaped birthday cakes =) The mousse - well, the whole cake looks spectacularly good! (Don't know if I could do with just one thin slice!)

Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons said...

Elle...what a lovely cake. Pretty, pink and perfect! And how special that your mom gets to enjoy this cake whether it's mother's day or her birthday. I'm really looking forward to trying it! : )

Laura@ Baking in Pyjamas said...

Elle it's so wonderful to hear how this bought baker memories and how you baked it in a heart shape tin as your mother did for you. It look so delicious, you did a brilliant job!

Emily said...

A wonderful post by you and that cake is awesome. Glad that you daughter was there too to learn the making of the buttercream!