Cheat Day [cheet dey] – noun: The one day of the week where diet minded fitness freaks throw caution to the wind and indulge only on the most tantalizing, ridiculously calorie dense foods known to man. Often associated with the term, “carb hangover,” which occurs the morning after a particularly fruitful cheat day. Synonyms: Free Day, Fun Day, Fat Day

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Easter: A pretty major holiday for those obsessed with baking cutesy concoctions.  I mean- what do you think of when you think of the word "cute?"  Pastels and cotton tailed bunnies and fluffy duckies come to mind?  No?  Well, that's just plain wrong!

Oh!  And babies, and anything made mini, and when puppies are dressed up like "people."

None of those have anything to do with Easter.  At least not how I celebrate Easter.  But heck, to each his own.

So anyway, I was completely pumped to bake something amazingly adorable, yet strangely, I was lacking inspiration.  From Easter bunny cake pops to cupcakes baked in egg shells to pretzel bird nests with candy eggs to adorable Easter cookies, I felt like everything worth doing had been done.  And done probably better than I could accomplish.  Drat.

So then my in-laws called and told me they needed not one, but two birthday cakes for the weekend and I decided to do that instead.  Pressure's off!

Until next year, deceptively intimating Easter treats!

Strawberry Birthday Cake
So why a strawberry cake, you ask?  Was it because I saw some delicious strawberry treat in a bakery that I just had to re-create?  Was it because incorporating fruit into desserts gives you a false sense that it's "healthier?"  Was it because the most delicious strawberry cake ever appeared to me in a dream? 

Answer: Nope!  Last night I actually dreamed that my husband got eaten by a giant hippo that was chasing us through the rainforest cafe.  Hilarious, yet surprisingly unsettling.

So the reasons I made a strawberry cake are as follows:
1. It's pink
2. We are celebrating husband's Grandmas birthday over Easter- and Easter is a very "pink" holiday.
3. It's for husband's Grandma.  Grandmas are girls!  Girls like pink!  I'm a girl- I like pink!!  Yay, pink!
4. I originally wanted coconut to use up the coconut I bought to fix a certain cake-tastrophe, but husband claimed that he "didn't know if his family liked coconut."  He later suggested German Chocolate... which, you know, doesn't have coconut in it or anything.  Read: Husband didn't want a plain coconut cake.  So strawberry it was!  (I also made an Oreo cake, described here.)

So here we go!

First, I made the cake using my favorite white cake recipe, which I adapted to be strawberry instead.  I use this recipe all the time.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

First, mix together your dry ingredients (strawberry cake mix, flour, sugar, salt) and then add in your wet ingredients (water, vanilla, eggs, oil, sour cream that you have placed into a cute polka dotted glass like I did.)

Polka dotted glass optional.
Mix it all up and pour equal amounts into two greased and floured 9 inch pans.

And they are ready to go into the oven!  Like I've said so many times before, you can freeze these guys until you are ready to use them.

The Filling
This filling was most definitely improvised.  I was making this along side of the Oreo Fluff Cake, and I wanted to adapt the Oreo fluff filling into a strawberry filling.  Mainly this was due to being lazy.  Also, I had a wicked craving for some "fluff" type concoctions, and I figured adding strawberries to the Oreo fluff recipe, instead of the Oreo's, was kind of fool proof. I was almost right.  Almost...

So blend together your cream cheese and strawberry preservers.  Here is where I was envisioning this super adorable pink fluff starting to form.  In all actually, it turned kind of gray and ended up looking fairly white in the end.  In the cake, it looked crisp white.  Oh well!

Next, add in your can of sweetened condensed milk and blend.  Finally, fold in the cool whip and your strawberry fluff filling is complete!
The filling

The Assembly
Alright!  Here we go!  The fun part.  For me, this was Saturday morning of cheat day and I could sample to my little hearts content.  This is the way to bake.  I feel like baking is the most successful when you finish, and you are too full to try what you created.  I mean, you power through like a champ of course.

First, make a double batch of My Favorite Butter Cream Frosting, and dye it pink.   Let the adorableness commence. 

So I think this is the first time I've improvised something here and it didn't go terribly, terribly wrong.  Oddly enough, I've never cut my cake tiers to add extra layers of filling.  But it wasn't too bad- I just used a large, sharp serrated knife and sliced it very careful.  I kept the parchment on top so I could steady the cake with my hand and not get all messy. 
So why did I choose now to try this?  Well, the very non-pink strawberry fluff filling was not only the wrong color, it was also the wrong consistency.  It was kind of "loose," you know?  Just a little soupy.  Luckily, it set up in the fridge pretty well, so I felt like I could solider on with the recipe.  But I most definitely didn't want to glob the stuff in one single layer, so by slicing the two cakes, I could do three thin filling layers instead.  And it worked!  No cake-tastophe here! 

Time to get this cake together!  Pipe a circle of butter cream around the bottom layer, and fill with fluff, and place the next cake on top.  Repeat.  Repeat.  You get the drift.

You'll end up with something like this!   Place your prettiest cake layer on top, and get ready to frost.  Since your frosting is already in a bag, just go ahead and pipe it onto the cake. 

I love doing it this way- you don't have to worry about the scraping motion picking up little bitty crumbs that make the cake look lame.  

The cake still ended up looking a little lame when I smoothed it out, but I was getting tired, and this honestly was the best that was going to happen at this point. 
Ugly cake!

Ugly cake gets slightly smoothed out.  If you have more pride in your work than I do, it'll probably end up smoother than this.  Sorry!  I was running out of time.  I let this set up in the fridge before piping on the decorations. 

Since I obviously didn't get a super smooth finish on the first go around, I used a damp paper towel to smooth down the top before I piped on my decorations.  Load up your piping bag with some more butter cream, and go to town! 

And here is the final product! I got the little sugar flowers at hobby lobby.  Way easier than learning how to actually pipe them. 

 So what's the cake-verdict?  Adorable!  Super spring-tabulous.  Definitely satisfied my craving for all things "fluff."  I think at the end of the day, my favorite strawberry filling will always be jam, lemon juice and powdered sugar, but this was different and light and delicious.  And by light, I'm talking about weight- not nutrition.  Because dear lord, this recipe is anything by light.  On that note, recipes time! 

The Cake:
Adapted from

(18 ounce) box strawberry cake mix 
cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
teaspoons real vanilla
1 (8 ounce) container of sour cream
large egg whites

Mix dry ingredients in mixer, and then blend in the wet ingredients.  

Pour into greased and floured 9 inch pans, tapping them to get the air bubbles out.
Bake at 325 until done (check time on boxed mix)

Once cooled, put cakes on parchment rounds, cover in saran warp, and place in gallon freezer bags and freeze until ready to use (making sure to defrost them the day before stacking the cake!) 

Strawberry Fluff Filling:
Recipe from:,1913,150160-224196,00.html

1 (8 oz) package of Philadelphia cream cheese (Softened)
4 oz Seedless Strawberry Preserves
14 oz. Sweetened condensed milk

16 oz. Cool whip

Mix softened cream cheese preserves.  Add the sweetened condensed milk.  Fold in cool whip and let set in the fridge for at least an hour before assembly.  

The Frosting:
Make a double batch of My Favorite Butter Cream (more for decorations, if needed.)  For this cake, I used regular old salted butter, skim milk and red food coloring.  For the yellowy accents, I used Irish Butter and heaving whipping cream instead of milk. 

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