Sunday, February 27, 2011


When I first started baking, I relied heavily on boxed cake mixes. Actually, everything I baked came from a box - brownies, cookies, muffins, you name it: boxed. The time I said I would make homemade cupcakes for our sixth grade bake sale? Well, Betty Crocker made it, I just added eggs and water. There I said it! I have been keeping that secret for years. Whoo, now that I've got that off my chest...

And while I can finally make things from scratch, meaning I actually add more than eggs and water, I still like using boxed mixes every now and then. It saves a lot of time or when you're short on ingredients and tastes just as good with some googled techniques. This year was the first year I ever made an actual birthday cake - because although my baking skills have improved, my decorating skills are pretty much non-existent.While I still have a long way to go before I have a Martha Stewart magazine cover worthy cake, I was told it was enjoyed by many! I'm not a professional baker, and my techniques might be a bit, or really, off - but this is whatever works for me. Feel free to give me some tips! 


1 box of Duncan Hanes extra moist: chocolate fudge cake mix (or any other flavor you like)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of oil

Whip-Cream Icing
1 container of Cool Whip
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup icing sugar

12-15 strawberries, set aside enough strawberries to go around the circumference of your cake and cut the tops off; try to keep these selected strawberries all the same height and if not, cut it to size. Take the left over bits and a few extra berries and dice them up.

Cake: First of all, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I always forget this step, so I usually end up waiting a while after I'm done the batter.
 Instead of cracking all the eggs into one bowl, separate the whites into a smaller bowl and the yolks into a larger mixing bowl. With a balloon whisk - if you're feeling the need for a work-out - or a electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites first until stiff peaks form. Set that aside in the fridge and then mix the egg yolks until creamy. In the same bowl as the yolks, pour in the milk (I don't remember how much I used, but I followed the box amount), oil, and the cake mix. With a spatula, cut into the mix to break up any lumps. Using a whisk or hand mixer on medium speed, blend all the ingredients together. When there are no lumps are left - it took me around 2 minutes - gently fold in the egg whites in two parts.
Lightly grease your baking pan with butter and then pour in your batter. I used a springform pan, so I didn't line it with parchment paper but if you're using a regular pan, it might be a good idea to. Give it a quick tap and pop it in your oven on the middle rack for however long, depending on the size of your pan. For me, it took around an hour to bake a 9-inch cake. It sounds a bit excessive and I think it was because my oven temperature was off, but that's how long it took me. If you're not sure, stick a wooden skewer or chopstick into the cake and if it comes out clean with a few crumbs, it should be done.   
When your timer rings, take your cake out. If you are using a spring form pan, remove the ring and let it cool for a few minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack. If you are not using a spring form pan, let it cool for a few minutes in the pan then run a knife around the edges and flip it onto a cooling rack. After about 10-15 minutes, cut the cake in half horizontally to get two layers. 

Whip-Cream Icing: While your cake is cooling, prepare the icing. Using an electric mixer, soften up the mascarpone and then add in the vanilla and icing sugar and blend until combined. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the cool whip in two parts until thoroughly mixed. If you want a thicker and denser icing, use less cool whip. I used cool whip because it was convenient, but you could also make your own whip cream. Instead of adding the icing sugar to the mascarpone, add it gradually to the cream while whipping. Cool in the fridge for a few minutes before using.

Assemble: Make sure your cake has completely cooled down before assembling! Spread a thin layer of icing on the bottom of one layer with a metal spatula. This collects all the crumbs and "glues" it down on the cake and keeps your strawberries from rolling around later. Arrange the whole strawberries you set aside earlier around the outer edge of the cake.
Take the diced up strawberries and sprinkle it evenly in the middle of the strawberry ring you created earlier. With your spatula, drop a large amount of cream in the middle and gently push it out. Keep repeating this step until all the cracks between the strawberries are filled. Once done, take the second layer of cake and place it on top. If your strawberries are all equal in height, the second layer of cake should lie evenly across.
Scrape the remaining cream on top, in the middle of the cake layer you just added, and push it out with your spatula. Run your spatula on top in a wiggling motion to get a nice soft-peak/wavy pattern. You can serve it right away, but I think its better to chill in the fridge for a few minutes (10-15) to set the cream a bit more.

No comments:

Post a Comment