Okay, really, who can’t decorate? *raises hand* I am really terrible at it. And I always was…My pictures as a kid were as simple as it gets, I can’t do details, small things or delicate presentations. It just isn’t on me. It got me terrible grades sometimes (but seriously, who qualifies highschool biology with fungus and flowers made out of play-doh? My teacher, that is.) So when I got interested on cakes, I was always blown away by pretty decorations and designs but I can never duplicate those. My presentations are always simple and rustic and I like them better that way, I think food is supposed to look like food, not like an art sculpture you can’t eat. But eventually I like to try…
For my cousin’s birthday, my aunt asked me to make 2 cakes, the sugar loaded bomb for the kids, and another more adequate for the grown ups. This is my adult’s cake. It’s a Strawberry Champagne Cake w/ Sour Cream Frosting. I got inspired by Darjeeling Dream’s beautiful Blackberry and Champagne Cake. And since I had that homemade vanilla & cardamom strawberry Jam on hand, I decided to give it a go. I love the cake, is so light but moist at the same time. Of course, is the Perfect Party Cake by the great Dorie Greenspan. I used half champagne and half buttermilk as opposed to all buttermilk like the original recipe calls for. Also, I increased the recipe by half, as I knew it wouldn’t be enough for my pans.
You know, is a funny thing…yesterday, while I was juggling my way into making and decorating two different cakes I realized very important things. One is that I don’t look good with my hair tangled in a messy bun at the top of my head and all my clothes covered in flour. But more importantly, I realized that, as much as I love to create and bake…I do not want to do this for a living. It is a passion of mine, is beautiful and I never want to stop doing it, but dang it…when it’s mandatory, it can be stressful as hell.
It makes me feel a little bad to say this, because I have the true opportunity to be able to study whatever I want. I’m even moving to one of the (if not the) most important gastronomic city in latin America and I could choose to become a professional baker or something, but I won’t. Yes, it is my passion but is my free passion. I love it because its mine and free and I can do whatever I want with it. When it became something I HAD to do (I didn’t want to let my cousin down) I stopped enjoying it. 2 cakes in one day was too much for me to enjoy.
But it was worth it. I always make “heavy” cakes with chocolate and caramel, vanilla, nuts…I never use fruit! But these cake called my name, perhaps is the fact that it has champagne in it and that makes it fancy and I looove fancy-sounding desserts 🙂 Either way, everyone loved it and this is the prettiest cake I’ve done in terms of decoration. I don’t know how I managed to level, fill, stack, frost and decorate without the cake falling apart. A total success for me. I’m getting better. But still, it was very stressful. For a while, I’m gonna make just simple things 😉
And the frosting went great. I don’t know if you knew, but I’m obsessed with Sour Cream. And even though I had a slight mishap with the frosting (the sour cream was too cold for the room-temperature butter and the whole thing curdled into a soupy mess. After crying in the sugared kitchen floor and pulling at my floured hair-bun for a good 15 minutes I decided to fight. I popped the whole thing in the microwave for 13 seconds exactly and then beat the hell out of it at full whack. It worked! I cried out of happiness. I’m an emotional person) it tasted sweet and tangy and vanilla-y. Sour cream makes my life complete. Try this cake, it’ll make you look fancy!
Strawberry & Champagne Cake w/ Sour Cream Vanilla Frosting
Recipe Adapted from Perfect Party Cake by Dorie Greenspan
Inspired by Darjeeling Dreams
For the cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup of champagne
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3/4 cups of strawberry jam or other fruit spread you seem suitable for the filling.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. At this very last moment, gently stir in the champagne. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
When the caked are cool, level them with a large serrated knife, discard (eat) the scraps and spread the strawberry jam on one of the cakes. Cover with the other and keep covered (it can be in the fridge so is easier to handle later) while you make the frosting.
Sour Cream and Vanilla Frosting
Recipe by me.
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add more sugar if it’s too soft or a little milk if too stiff.
Spread frosting on top and sides of the cake. I had leftover frosting, which I colored with blackberry jam to make that rosy color and then pipped some “roses” on the cake. Serve at room temperature.
Yes, I did have a little too much cake, why do you ask? By the way, check out The Young Veins and their new album Take a Vacation!
Have a lovely week!