Fresh fruit puree gives great flavour and colour!
I’m not the kind of person who craves cake and generally only bake them on festive occasions. My tastes tend to run more towards fruit pies and crumbles or even ice creams and sorbets made with real fruit. In trying to find a way to work fresh fruit into a cake recipe, I hit upon the idea of cooking and pureeing berries to add to both the cake batter and cream cheese frosting. Sure enough, it gives the cake a gentle strawberry flavour and delicate pink hue. This method would work equally well with other berries. I like to use two 6 inch (15 cm) diameter ‘baby cake’ pans as they yield two lofty layers that look really impressive.
- 1 cup (250 mL) sliced strawberries, from about 6 – 8 strawberries
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) granulated sugar
- 1 1/3 cups (340 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) baking powder
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) milk
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten (reserve yolks for another purpose)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) reserved strawberry puree
Cream cheese frosting:
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons (75 mL) salted butter, at room temperature
- Remaining strawberry puree
- 2 cups (500 mL) powdered (icing) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) milk or water, as needed
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line with parchment a 9 inch (22.5 cm) round cake pan or two 6 inch (15 cm) pans. Note that baking times may need to be adjusted depending upon the pan you choose.
- Make the strawberry puree by placing the sliced strawberries and sugar in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 6 – 8 minutes, until strawberries are very soft. Pass mixture through a sieve or blend it until smooth.
- Make the cake batter by whisking together in a small bowl the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl and electric hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg whites and 1/4 cup of the prepared strawberry puree.
- With the mixer on low speed, alternate 3 additions each of the flour mixture and milk/egg/strawberry mixture, beating after each addition. When all has been added, mix until batter is smooth (about 1 minute).
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan(s). Bake for 24 – 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean (smaller pans will take longer to bake).
- Let cool for 20 minutes then remove from pan to finish cooling completely. If making ahead, wrap well and freeze for up to a month.
- While cake is cooling, prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric mixer and a large bowl). When smooth, add the strawberry puree, powdered sugar, vanilla and just enough milk or water to achieve a thick but spreadable consistency. Beat 2 – 3 minutes until fluffy.
- Spread frosting on cooled cake, adding some in the centre if you have made two layers. Decorate with fresh strawberries immediately before serving.
Makes 1 cake to serve 6 – 8.