Happy birthday to Ben, part 2! Yesterday evening we had birthday cookout for Ben at my dad’s house, and lots of Ben’s family was able to be there. It was a really great time and I’m so glad his family was able to celebrate with us. The whole cookout was great, but for me the highlight was definitely the cake. I was so proud of how this turned out because I used a few different recipes and a bit of my own creativity to come up with the end result, and it turned out exactly as I imagined. My original inspiration was this cake from Ashleigh’s blog. My final product isn’t that different from hers, but I did use a few of my own ideas to make it what I wanted.
I made a classic yellow cake recipe, but instead of making two layers I measured the batter out into three equal parts (approx. 2 1/4 cups each) and baked three layers instead. Between the layers I spread approximately 1/3 cup of cream cheese frosting, covered with sliced strawberries, and then topped the strawberries with a bit more frosting to help the next layer stick. One recipe of the frosting ended up being the perfect amount to fill between the three layers and frost the outside of the cake.
Some tips I think were helpful in assembling: first, I patted down the strawberry slices with paper towels before putting them on the cake. I think this helped to minimize the berries releasing juices and making the frosting watery or less sticky. Next, I worked in stages in order to allow the frosting to “set” some in the refrigerator. I refrigerated between adding both layers and several times while frosting the outside of the cake. I think this really helped keep things together. Finally, I didn’t add the strawberries on top until an hour or so before serving in order to prevent them from oozing and messing up the appearance of the cake.
¾ cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cups milk
Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 8” or 9” round cake pans or one 9×13” cake pan. Set pans aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined and scraping sides of bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).
Bake in a 375° oven for 20-25 minutes for 9” pans, 30-35” for 8” pans, 25-30 minutes for a 9×13” pan or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans; cool thoroughly on racks. Frost with desired frosting.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Meredith Books, 2002
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.