Strawberry Fields… Whatever

I am making my granddaughters birthday cake. Like so many girls she is really into unicorns, hence a Unicorn Cake. This will be a three tier cake, 10”, 8” and 6”. The 6” layer will have a unicorn cake topper and a multicolored flowing mane down the back. Check out that post in a few days.

The base will be my Extreme Chocolate Cake (my favorite) and the center will be a Heavenly White Cake, which is a blend between white and angel food cake. Again, stop back next week for details

Right now I am describing the strawberry cake recipe that I adapted from my Heavenly White Cake. The trick to this cake lies in the strawberry puree reduction. Placed sliced strawberries in a food processor and pulse until it is a puree. Place the puree in a small saucepan and with occasional stirring, reduce to about half the volume. This will take 30 – 40 minutes. Cover and place in the fridge until cool, (Overnight would be fine.)

I also added 1/4th tsp of strawberry extract to enhance the flavor. Any more would make it taste artificial. The Heavenly White Cake uses a cup of plain milk (I use 2% low calcium as that is what we stock in the home.) For the strawberry version I added 1 Tbl of vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk. This makes a pseudo buttermilk. I also added 1/4 cup of heavy cream hoping the final cake would be moist. The 1/2 cup strawberry reduction added the balance of the liquid.

For my test cake this recipe made two 6” and one 5” round cakes, 2” high. They required about 30 minutes to bake. I checked it using the spring back test, clean tooth pick check and measuring the center of the cake to be 210 deg F.

Overall, I was pleased with the moisture, flavor and texture of the cake. Combined with the Heavenly White and Extreme Chocolate cakes, marshmallow fondant and buttercream frosting, it should be a Unicorn Spectacular!

Heavenly Strawberry Cake

• 2¾ cups sifted cake flour
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 4 egg whites
• 1½ cups white sugar
• ¾ cup butter
• ½ cup milk (add 1 Tbl vinegar to make “Buttermilk” equivalent milk)
• ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ¼ tsp strawberry extract
• ¼ tsp red food coloring
• ~250 g diced strawberries


  1. The day before baking: Puree strawberries and reduce to ½. This will take 20-30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.
  2. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  4. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter.
  5. Whisk in ½ cup of puréed strawberries.
  6. Add ¼ tsp red food coloring, mixing well. (Optional)
  7. Spread batter in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes.

Brinnnnggg… Brinnnnggg… Brinnnnggg… No wait!

It was a bee-dup, not a brinnnngggg, yeah thats right bee-dup. Hold on, it wasn’t a bee-dup either it was definitely a deedle-deee, yes that’s it, a deedle-dee. Marc send me an email not a phone call or text, requesting a cake for his mom’s 80th birthday party. He wanted one cake shaped like an eight and the other like a zero. After some serious investigative questioning of the client I discoverer his mom likes hazelnut and black and white. So the plan was set. One chocolate cake shaped like an eight with hazelnut butter-cream frosting, and one round white cake for the zero with white hazelnut cake and butter-cream frosting. Through various devious and nefarious means I also discovered the cake would need to feed about 45-50 ravenous 80 year-olds.

Now that the cake(s) were designed, the logistics needed to be planned. I decided one two layer 12″ cake for the zero and two 8″ two (I love numbers) layer cakes with the bottoms of each cut off and the flat sides set together to make the eight.

The 12″ cakes should take about 90 minutes to make and bake, then another 30-45 min to cool. (Wrapped in the heavy duty plastic wrap I use it will stay fresh for at least a week.)  The chocolate cake is pretty easy, but as I only have three 8″ cake pans I knew I would have to make 2 batches. If I had one set of cakes made and cooled, I could frost/decorate it while the other cakes cooled. Make one cake Thursday, one Friday and frost/decorate Saturday, no problem.

I made the hazelnut cake Thursday night after work in one single LARGE batch. Friday night I made two of the four chocolate cakes before dinner and the final two after. Saturday morning I leveled the first of the two 12″ and would you believe it the *#&%#@ of the  12″ cake wasn’t cooked at all. *#&%#@ !!. It’s Saturday morning and now I have to make two more *#&%#@ 12″ cakes, cool them, frost and decorate before 5:30 when its time for our traditional New Year’s pizza and a movie. I decided to make the hazelnut cakes one at a time, it takes longer but is safer and I didn’t have time for any more *#&%#@ errors*#&%#@. While the first cake was baking I made a double recipe of butter cream frosting, crumb coated and cut the chocolate cakes, putting them in the fridge to set. I baked the second set of hazelnut cakes at a lower temperature for a longer time, covering the cakes with aluminum foil to keep them from over-browning. (While the first cake was cooling and the second was baking, Fran and I went and upgraded our iPhone 3’s to iPhone 4s’s, a good move at a great price. The new phones are much faster and we probably wont complain about the speed for a month or two.)

After lunch (note Wendy’s cup in one picture) I frosted the two now cooled hazelnut cakes which were baked perfectly. The white cakes did not need a crumb coat (thankfully) so I could frost and decorate them fairly quickly. My piping is definitely improving, but as I can barely read my own handwriting I do not hold out much hope for my lettering. The ribbons and flowers really set the cake off nicely.

Now, for the mechanics: White Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients (for one 12″ round cake)

  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts. (I used a blender on “food processor”) level and beat the *#&%#@ out of them, then sifted the lees through a strainer leaving essentially hazelnut flour)
  • 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 inch round cake pan. Fran bought these exceptionally cool silicone liners which i cut to fit the bottom of the cake pan, parchment paper will also work and both make the cake release from the pan very easily.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. (Be sure they are well creamed, 7-8 min at level 2 on my KitchenAid mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, alternately add these dry ingredient and milk to the creamed mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60 minutes, covered with aluminum foil, in the preheated oven.  To keep the bottom from over browning try setting the cake pan in an inch of water as it bakes. I did not try this, but will next time.

Chocolate Cake and Butter Cream Frosting

Both are described elsewhere in abatteredoldsuitcase so I won’t re-iterate here. I did substitute 3 oz of Frangelica for the vanilla to give the frosting the hazelnut flavor.

East is left and West is right

and who-da-thought they would meet for Thanksgiving at our house in 2011. Faced with the dilemma of having Republican political consultants and still newly weds Daniel and Frances home for Thanksgiving and tree-hugging lefty pinko liberal Fran’s birthday the same week, what cake do I make for their anniversary and birthday? Not having been born just yesterday I realized I needed to make two cakes.

The elephant cake for Daniel and Frances was my standard chocolate cake crumb coated with butter cream frosting and covered with white fondant.

The donkey (see how nice I am to use that descriptor?) was white velvet again crumb coated with butter cream and covered with fondant.

The emblems were carved from fondant and painted the traditional colors.

The stars both on the emblems and around the base were piped with red, white and blue colored butter cream frosting

The white velvet cake recipe are found at: I am not on the white velvet ropes yet!

Chocolate Cake


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.