This may come as a bit of a surprise but I’m not a huge fan of fruit! Since I was a little girl, I’ve always preferred cheese over cherries and the only way my grandmother got me to eat fruit during the summer months, was baking it into one of her classic dishes!
Summer time always reminds me of my younger days; watching Law and Order on my grandfather’s love seat, waiting for cake, pie or cookies to come out of the oven and just being HOT and not caring, even though the oven raised the temperature by 20 degrees, the treats were always worth the sweat!
It had to have been the summer of 2000, right after we realized the world wasn’t going to end….
My grandmother baked every recipe she could get her hands on! I recall mostly, the mountains of strawberries in bowls scattered across the house and the endless dishes she made from her hauls to the farmers market. Strawberry pie, strawberry freeze pops, strawberry jam… STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE that was so cool, moist and delicate that it made your eyes close after each bite, all these things and more, make Summer time my happy place!
This year I decided to kick off an old time summer favorite with a twist!
Browned Buttered Strawberry Cake with a Beetroot Cream Cheese Frosting. This cake is much denser than a shortcake and has a ton of flavor! It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory thanks to the nutty flavors of browned butter. The cakes texture is very soft on the inside and the fresh strawberries make it a refreshing treat that can be served chilled or at room temperature (my favorite) for the perfect afternoon snack.
As much as possible I buy local organic produce for my baked goods. It delivers the best flavors, cuts down on my carbon footprint and supports my community! I also use natural ingredients like this Beet Root Powder, that I dual purposed for its color properties and a little antioxidant boost.
Pro Tip* Powders are a great natural option to food coloring. Beet Root Powder, Acai Powder, Matcha Powders can all be incorporated into dozens of baked treats. The brand I used was purchased from Juniper Baltimore, but McCormick now carries a line of colors made from plants vegetables and seeds, called Color Nature.
To achieve the crispy edges I oiled the cake pans, sprayed them with a non-stick floured spray and let the cake cook for an additional 10 minutes. The ingredients keep the cake moist throughout but the extra minutes in the oven gives it a nice texture to balance out with the creamy frosting. For less crispy edges, cook at recommended time, remove cake from pans and place on a cooling sheet.
BROWNED BUTTER STRAWBERRY
5 cups sliced fresh strawberries, divided
3 cups flour
1 cup cake flour
2 ½ cups sugar divided
1 ½ cup whole milk, room temp.
1 cup unsalted butter (Browned and cooled)
3 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 large egg whites
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
Place 1 stick unsalted butter in a skillet on medium heat for 10 minutes, just until butter is browned. (Butter will smell like almonds or toasted nuts) Pour into a container to cool, making sure to strain so texture remains smooth. Place butter in fridge for 30 minutes or until solidified. Butter can be made up to two days in advance. Please note, at two days butter will be at its nuttiest essence, enhancing the flavor profile of the cake.
(This is perfect if you’re looking for more savory flavor.)
Strawberry cream cheese frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. raspberry extract
1 ½ tbsp. of beet root powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Beat cream cheese and butter, at medium speed until creamy, Add extract, beat to combine. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Add beet root powder 1 tsp. at a time until desired color, up to 1 ½ tablespoons.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8” round cake pan with floured baking spray.
2. In a medium saucepan simmer; 3 cups of the sliced strawberries, ½ cup of sugar & 3 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice, over medium heat until slightly thickened, 7 -10 minutes.
Remove from heat let cool completely.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter and remaining 2 cups sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 5 minutes. Scrape bowl and add egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add remaining two eggs beating until mixture is golden then add vanilla.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.
Gradually add the lour mixture to butter mixture adding milk until just combined after each addition.
5. Pour cooled strawberry mixture into batter. Mix well by hand using rubber spatula, until evenly distributed then pour batter into prepared pans.
(*Tip- Hit bottom of pans on a flat surface to level and smooth tops)
6. Bake 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for about 15 minutes then remove from pans and let cool completely.
7. Spread cream cheese frosting on two layers, and top each with remaining sliced strawberries. Stack layers and spread frosting on top layer. Dress with additional strawberries if desired!