Sweets were hard to come by in my house growing up.  When we did have cake, my mom was strictly a Pillsbury kind of woman–and it was always one of her go to flavors:  Yellow, Strawberry, Vanilla, or Confetti (for a birthday).  No, I’m afraid we just weren’t a chocolate kind of family.  In fact, because of my mom’s aversion to chocolate, I didn’t truly enjoy chocolate until college.  Oh–pick up your jaws! 🙂  Trust me, I’ve had my fill of “What?!” and “How is that even possible?!”  Bring it up with my Vietnamese mother.  She deprived me of a normal childhood.

What a tangent, huh?  Well, with that story in mind, you should also know that as much as I LOVE chocolate now, I naturally gravitate towards fruit based desserts.  To this day, while many people automatically shut down all dessert possibilities when they see the molten chocolate cake on the menu, I’ll always look for the fruit tart (if it’s a la mode, there’s almost no other choice for me).

Fresh from the Farmer's Market

The batter was quite beautiful

So you can’t even imagine my joy when I found this recipe.  A simple, authentic strawberry cake–no artificial colors or flavors.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a thing.  This cake is absolutely delicious!  Oh-so-moist, rich, and the strawberries in the recipe are so refreshing!  Use the best strawberries you can find for this recipe–it really makes all the difference!  And let it be known–the strawberry frosting is out-of-this-world good!  This may be my favorite frosting of all time.  So good, I had a few spoonfuls as I was frosting the cake.

A note on the frosting:  I like a lot of strawberry puree in my frosting–it makes the frosting wonderfully light and it really cuts down on the sugary taste.  The more puree you use, the more fluid the frosting.  I would add the puree in batches.  That way you can adjust the taste as well as gauge the consistency of the frosting.  I personally found it easier to frost the cake when the frosting was in more liquid form, but I certainly had to refrigerate the cake afterward so that the frosting would set.  If you are making cupcakes, I’d definitely recommend letting the frosting harden a bit in the fridge before frosting.

Strawberry Cake (served with strawberry frosting)
Yield: 2 8-inch round pans
Cake Ingredients:
2 ½ cups cake flour *
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup oil (Canola)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups finely chopped strawberries
Frosting:
¾  c. strawberries
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla
Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease cake pans.
2.  Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4.  Add eggs one at a time until combined.  Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until combined.
5.  Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in chopped strawberries.  Fill cake pans wells ¾ full with batter.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
7.  For the frosting, puree strawberries in food processor.  You can certainly strain the strawberry puree to get rid of all the seeds.  I personally did not—and I didn’t have any problems with the taste or consistency.
8.   Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5   minutes.  Add powdered sugar half a cup at a time so that you can gauge how sweet you want your frosting. Make sure to have your strawberries in mind—if you have a basket of sweet, ripe strawberries, you won’t need as much sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add lemon juice, vanilla and strawberry puree.  Adjust the amount of puree to achieve your desired consistency.
9.  Frost cupcakes when completely cool.
*I did not use cake flour simply because I didn’t have any on hand.  I opted for All purpose, but keep in mind that this is not an even exchange.  For every cup of APF, remove 2tablespoons.
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
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