Last week was mad. I was buried in work at work and it was my sister’s birthday on Jan 8th, Wednesday bang in the middle of the week. Birthdays during weekdays are the worst thing for a food blogger who works full time, definitely for me. No food blogger worth her pageviews will let go of a birthday without making a cake and I am no exception. A cake it had to be and not a chocolate cake again. It had to be different and it had to look good. Now frostings aren’t my best friends and cake decorating definitely not my strong point, so I was worried as ever. I decided on Allrecipe’s strawberry cake and the widely acclaimed swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Yeah, I know not at all a great choice for a busy week. I had no idea if strawberries were available in the market. I went scouting for strawberries Monday evening and thankfully found some at Amma Naana. I made the cake Tuesday morning, the frosting Wednesday night and assembled the whole thing Thursday morning. Her birthday was Wednesday.
I am glad though that I made the cake. The cake had a nice crumb, tender and not overly fluffy but not dense either. I’d say it was a really good strawberry cake. The frosting was smooth, silky and simply beautiful. The usual American buttercream frosting is gritty and too overly sweet and I’ve never really liked it. I’d wanted to try SMB (swiss meringue buttercream) frosting for quite some time now but I was terrified of making this frosting. From what I read online, you need a thermometer, a stand mixer, absolute precision and lots of patience to make this frosting, none of which I possess. But still I ventured. My frosting tasted great but wasn’t thick enough to be piped. I had initially planned to make rosettes all over but changed my mind and made random wavy patterns all over with the spatula. I am sure the recipe was correct, it must have been me. But I am pretty confident you can make it with a hand-held mixer just make sure that you don’t have to lift your arms the next day, because you won’t be able to.
Happy Birthday Chinnu (my sister)! Happy Birthday +Jothi Ramalingam (my cousin) whose birthday was also last week!
Granulated white sugar – 2 cups
All purpose flour/Maida – 2- 3/4 cups
Strawberry Jelly crystals – 90 gm (I used the Weikfield Jelly pack and left at 10th of the pack and used the rest. It is a 100 gm pack)
Eggs – 4 at room temperature separated
Baking powder – 2-1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla extract – 1 tablespoon
Fresh Strawberry puree – 1/2 cup (about 1 cup fresh strawberries yields ½ a cup of puree)
1. Take eggs out of refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while you ready everything else. Measure out butter and let it soften.
2. Preheat oven to 170 C for 15 minutes. Grease and line two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans with butter paper or parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Sieve flour and baking powder twice. Add the Jelly crystals and whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Combine milk, strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Set aside.
5. Separate the egg yolks and whites into two separate bowls.
6. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy. Then add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes.
7. Then add the egg yolks and beat for 2-3 minutes. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in three additions starting and ending with flour. Beat on low speed just until combined and there is no trace of flour.
8. In a clean bowl, beat egg white till they hold stiff peaks. Fold these egg whites into the cake batter gently making sure to fold from the bottom. Turn the cake batter into the prepared pans and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert on to a rack and let cool completely. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate till the frosting is ready.
Makes: enough to fill and frost a 9 inch cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
1. Cut up butter into cubes and let them come to room temperature.
2. Wipe the bowl, beaters and spatula with vinegar to remove all traces of grease. Grease can hinder in the meringue making.
3. Set up a double boiler by placing a pot/pan with about an inch of water boiling on low heat. Place the prepared bowl on top of the pot making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Combine egg whites and sugar and keep whisking constantly so that the egg whites don’t cook. Whisk until the sugar dissolves completely and the whites are hot to the touch. The egg white would have frothed up nicely by now. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and beat with an electric beater till the egg whites have cooled to room temperature and they form stiff peaks. This can take about 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the softened butter cubes a few at a time and beat on low speed till they’re completely incorporated. When all the butter has been incorporated, beat on medium speed until the frosting thickens and comes together. Add vanilla extract or any other flavouring and salt and beat for a further 2 minutes till they’re thoroughly mixed up.
1. Level cakes by slicing off the domed portions with a serrated knife. Apply a 1/8ththick layer of frosting in between cake layers. Place the cakes one atop another carefully aligning them. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting all over the assembled cake. Chill for half an hour or freeze for 15 minutes.
2. Slather a thick layer of frosting all over the crumb coated cake. I took the easy route and just used my spatula to make frosting waves by making curved upward motions while smoothing the frosting. Finish by placing a few cut strawberries and one or two whole strawberries in the middle. Chill till serving time. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before. Slice and serve.