Sometimes you just need a pink cake. I’ve never been a very “pink” girl and it could be related to having a baby girl last September… but recently I’ve been very comfortable with a rosy palate. When I saw Smitten Kitchen’s Pink Lady Cake I knew I needed to try it. I hate processed strawberry flavors but if it’s natural — and this cake is — I’m in. I ended up finding a different recipe to work off though as I wasn’t okay with THREE cups of sugar in the batter alone, and #noregrets.
Why did I bake a cake in the middle of March? I started a book club through a Facebook moms group (ed. note: it’s crazy how all of a sudden when you have a baby you’re like okay now I’m cool with new internet friends) and I hosted the first month. Inspired by the book cover’s color motif & my raspberry kisses blowing baby I gravitated to strawberry cake recipes and found this one by Sally’s Baking Addiction. Plus, do I really need an excuse to make cake?
IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. And beautiful! With no food dye! I don’t even like cream cheese frosting and I 100% endorse this recipe. Adapted directions below, I wouldn’t change a thing next time I whip this up, which I will.
- 2 and 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (my addition for coloring the cake which it did not! but tasted great so I’m not changing a thing)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries
- one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. All you do is put all berries in food processor and then drop the puree into a sauce pan and heat gently for 30 minutes. It should reduce by half.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Butter parchment paper cut for 9-inch cake pans.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.
- Using mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not over-mix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. If desired, stir in the juice.
- Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried berries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, berry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
- Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.
PS: I do recommend the book we read, The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It was a sad story following a man’s life in Ireland, but it still made me chuckle at times. Long read. But good. Not the best choice for a mom’s book club (we don’t have time to read much beyond The Happy Sleeper (GET IT)) but still brought a few new moms together!