Sugar Cookie Strawberry Cake

strawberry cake

This is a fresh and flavorful cake that is perfect for birthday parties or spring/summer holidays such as Easter. The original recipe is from a fabulous book entitled, Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It by Melissa Ben-Ishay, which is filled with great recipes for cakes, frostings, fillings, and toppings! I decided to combine this strawberry cake with her scrumptious recipe for sugar cookie dough which is perfect for nibbling since it contains no eggs. I could eat this sugar cookie dough ALL DAY LONG! The recipe makes a lot of sugar cookie dough, more than you need for this recipe, so you can either halve the recipe or tightly wrap the leftovers and freeze for later use.

The wonderful thing about this cake is that you don’t have to make it strawberry flavored, the recipe calls for a homemade fruit puree for the flavoring so you can feel free to play around and experiment with whatever fruit you like best! Try mixed berries, pineapple, peaches, or even mango! The possibilities for this cake are seemingly endless. For the frosting, I used a swiss buttercream since it tints well and isn’t overly sweet.

One last note, before making your cake be sure to bring all of the refrigerated ingredients to room temperature. Cold ingredients don’t blend as well and subsequently won’t form a proper emulsion. It’s tempting to overlook this step but please don’t as it’s really quite necessary in order to create a fluffy, light baked good. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups strawberry puree*
  • sanding sugar, for decoration

For the sugar cookie dough

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9″ round baking pans or line the pans with parchment paper and butter the paper.

With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high-speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla extract then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and sea salt. In another bowl, stir together the milk and the strawberry puree.

With the mixer on low-speed, add half of the flour mixture. When it’s mostly incorporated add half of the milk mixture. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter.

Divide the batter equally between the two pans and bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press with your finger, about 35-40 minutes.

While the cakes are baking, make the buttercream frosting and sugar cookie dough. To make the sugar cookie dough, using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on high for about a minute. Add the vanilla and whip to just incorporate. Add the sugar and whip for another minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt and whip just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time.

Allow the cakes to completely cool on wire racks before icing and decorating. Frost the layer cake then break off small pieces of the sugar cookie dough and assemble them around the outside edge of the cake. Sprinkle lightly with sanding sugar. Extra sugar cookie dough can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for use in other recipes.

*To make the strawberry puree – Clean and hull 3 1/2 cups (a little more than a pint) of fresh strawberries. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor, adding a little granulated sugar if the berries are a bit too tart.

“How-To” Baking – Fruit Desserts

Crumbles, crisps, and buckles………Oh my!! There are so many different ways to bake fresh fruit into a delectable dessert that it can be confusing and overwhelming. So let’s break it down one dessert at a time!

Crumble – A crumble is a baked dessert consisting of fresh fruit that is topped with an oat based streusel.

Crisp – A crisp is very similar to a crumble except the streusel topping is made from flour, not oats.

Brown Betty – A brown betty is very similar to a crisp. In fact, some recipes call for only fresh fruit with a streusel topping just like in a crisp. However, a layer of streusel can also be layered on the bottom as well. Other recipes call for the fruit to be layered between stale, buttered cubes of bread.

Cobbler – A cobbler is topped with individual dropped biscuits that create the look of a cobblestone street, hence the name “cobbler“.

Buckle – A buckle has a cake like batter underneath the fruit and is topped with crumbs. As it bakes the cake rises up while the fruit and crumbs weigh it down which causes a buckling effect. The most common type of buckle is blueberry but it can be made with other types of fruit.

Grunt/Slump – A grunt or a slump is similar to a cobbler however, instead of being baked in the oven it is cooked in a covered pan on a stovetop or over a campfire. The biscuits are steamed rather than baked like in a cobbler.

The term “grunt” was coined because of the noise that the hot, bubbly fruit makes as it cooks. The term “slump” was coined because when the dessert is placed on a serving dish it doesn’t hold its form and it “slumps” on the dish.

Clafouti – A clafouti is topped with either cake or pudding.

Pandowdy – A pandowdy is a deep dish fruit dessert that is topped with brittle biscuits. As the pandowdy bakes, the biscuit topping is broken up and pounded into the fruit so that the juices from the fruit can rise up to the top.

Crostata/Galette – A crostata or galette is made with a rolled out piece of dough that’s piled with fruit. The edges of the dough are folded in to create a crust and then it gets an egg wash and a dusting of coarse sugar on top. This dessert is freeform in shape and it’s baked on a flat sheet.

These two desserts are identical except in name. A crostata is an Italian term and a galette is French but they can be used interchangeably as they are both referring to the same thing.

 

“How-To” Baking – Macerating

Macerating basically means to soak fruit in juice so that is becomes softened, juicy, and the flavor intensified. Fruit can be macerated in various liquids such as liquors and liqueurs, syrups, vinegar, citrus juice, and extracts such as vanilla or almond. Different fruits can be macerated together in order to meld their flavors. When doing this, start the tougher skinned fruits first and then add the softer fruits later in the process so they don’t become too mushy.

Some recipes might call for macerating fruits by sprinkling them with sugar. Although not *technically* macerating as there is no liquid being applied to the fruit, the sugar does serve to draw the moisture out of the fruit. When the moisture combines with the sugar in the bowl it creates a nice juicy syrup. This method works particularly well with fresh strawberries.