Visiting my parents is great. Adam loves it here, probably because his craziness was genetically inherited from my side of the family. I'm not ashamed of that. One of the best things about coming down to Florida in January is that it's strawberry season.
I'm a self-proclaimed strawberry connoisseur. Seriously. And the best strawberries I've ever had (and I've had a lot) were from Plant City, FL. I couldn't tell you why but they have the fullest strawberry flavor. They're simply the best. If you live on the east coast your supermarket probably carries them. When you're shopping for strawberries if you can't smell the tangy sweetness flowing out of the plastic crate put. them. back. They're a waste of your time.
Loving strawberries as much as I do, almost as much as apples (mmm, Pink Ladies), strawberry cake is one of my favorite desserts. But when you look around online and in cook books strawberry cakes are always made using cake mixes or strawberry gelatin. Nobody uses actual strawberries. What the crap is that all about? Last night I wanted to make a strawberry cake for my mom because she was having a hard day at work; my dad had just bought a half flat of my precious Plant City darlings and they were weeping to be used in something especially delicious. She loves coconut so obviously a strawberry coconut cake was decided upon. This is a Lizzie Brown original recipe. You're free to use and enjoy it, let me know if it wins you an award!
Here we go!
1 C butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (Cake flour gives the cake a finer, smoother texture, like a moist pound cake. I'm not sure how this recipe would turn out with all purpose flour, so try that at your own risk.)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 C milk
2 cups pureed strawberries
1/8 t lemon extract
6 egg whites
3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
In electric mixer cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in strawberry puree and lemon extract.
Beat egg whites (room temperature will be easiest) in a large bowl either by hand or with a hand mixer until they get all foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until you can get a stiff peak. (I did this by hand and I had to call my dad in for reinforcements. I would seriously recommend using a hand mixer unless your biceps are just that impressive).
Gently fold 1/2 of the whipped whites into the batter until it's all incorporated, then gently fold in the rest. Grease and flour three 9" round pans. Evenly distribute the batter between them. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes, using a toothpick to check for readiness. These cakes won't really get that golden brown color because of the strawberries, but they should be noticeably darker. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes and let them cool completely.
Coconut Butter Cream
1 1/2 C butter
1 (16 oz) bag of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
shredded coconut flakes, probably about 1 1/2 cups worth
Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until it's really fluffy. Add the milk and coconut to your liking. You could even add some strawberry puree to the butter cream if you want a strawberry frosting. Just add more sugar to make it as stiff as you want if the puree loosens it up too much.
Once your cakes have cooled, put one of a plate, flat side up and frost the top of it. I also put a layer of cut strawberries that had been sitting in sugar on top of the frosting and it was really yummy. Then put your next cake on top of the strawberries, frost, another layer of strawberries. Last cake layer, frost top and all around the sides of the cake. You can put strawberries around the top edge of the cake, or all over, or whatever you want. I then patted shredded coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkled it on top.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! I think I may have a slice for lunch. And if you want a plain strawberry cake, just leave out all the coconut-related portions of this recipe. I haven't tried it but I'm sure it would be delicious, especially if you did a full on strawberry butter cream.