Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever Cake

My dad requested a strawberry cake for his birthday. I searched everywhere on my quest to find a recipe for a homemade strawberry cake that did not include white cake mix! I gleaned this recipe from the Honeyed Hashette blog - her photos looked so yummy, I just had to make it!


2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 3oz. package strawberry Jell-O
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen sweetened strawberries, puréed
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
Strawberry Filling

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Add to batter, alternating with milk until flour and milk are incorporated. Blend in vanilla and strawberry purée.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread top with Strawberry Filling. Spread Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing evenly over filling on cake layer. Top with second cake layer; spread top with Strawberry Filling. Spread remaining Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.


Sugar-Frosted Strawberries (Using a pastry brush, coat fresh, clean strawberries with egg white, then roll in sugar. Let dry on wax paper for 2 hours. NOTE: Do this step just before serving as frosted strawberries do not refrigerate well.)

CREDIT: "Strawberry Cupcake Fields Forever post" from the Honeyed Hashette blog

Strawberry Filling

This recipe goes with Strawberry Fields Forever Cake.

I wanted to jazz up my dad's strawberry birthday cake a little bit, so I made up some strawberry filling to go on top of each cake layer with some strawberry purée I had leftover from the cake and icing. This can also be used to drizzle over the cake and/or plate as a garnish.

1 cup frozen sweetened strawberries, puréed
1 Tbs cornstarch

In small saucepan, bring puréed strawberries to a boil, stirring constantly. Dissolve cornstarch into 1/2 Tbs warm water and pour into boiling strawberry mixture, stirring until thickened. Add more cornstarch (dissolved) if necessary to thicken more. Cool and refrigerate until use.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

This recipe goes with Strawberry Fields Forever Cake.

Since our printer was not hooked up when I was making this cake, I jotted the recipe down on paper instead of printing it from the Honeyed Hashette blog. The icing that I made was so soft and fluffy that it was actually too soft for the cake - on the drive to my dad's house, the top layer of the cake kept sliding off and I had to do some major cake resuscitation when I arrived. I mentioned to my husband that the recipe's 1 1/2 cups of butter was a lot and that next time I'll cut it down to 1/2 cup so it won't be so soft. Well, lo and behold, when I jumped online to add the recipe to my blog, I realize that the recipe DID actually only call for 1/2 cup of butter and I had mistakenly written down 1 1/2 cups butter! Either way, the icing is delicious!!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup frozen sweetened strawberries, puréed

Blend cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and blend well. Add strawberry purée and blend well. Refrigerate until use.

CREDIT: "Strawberry Cupcake Fields Forever post" from the Honeyed Hashette blog

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake

We're housesitting for some friends right now and they have blueberry bushes brimming with fresh blueberries just waiting to be baked into something yummy! I found this recipe in my new book, "Southern Cakes", and had to try it out.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Preheat oven to 375°, and generously grease a 9-inch square or round pan.
Is a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Stir in half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, then the rest of the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 375° for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the center, and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.

CREDIT: Nancie McDermott, Southern Cakes, p. 124, c. 2007

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ricotta Cheese Cookies

I had some ricotta cheese left over that I needed to use up before it expired and found this recipe on I haven't tasted them yet because I've just had oral surgery and am on a liquid diet for a few days, but my family loves them!

2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 Tbs milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bow, with the mixer a low speed, beat the sugar and butter until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Reduce speed to medium and beat in the ricotta, vanilla and eggs.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until dough forms.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart; onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden (cookies will be soft). With spatula, remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

When cookies are cool, prepare icing**. In small bowl, stir confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. With small spreader, spread icing on cookies.

** I did not have any milk, so I improvised on the icing. I made 6 different flavors:

  • lemon (using lemon juice)
  • orange (using orange juice that was strained through mesh to separate the pulp)
  • pomegranate (using pomegranate juice)
  • Irish cream (using a few drops of Irish cream oil and some Irish cream flavored coffee creamer)
  • vanilla maple (using some vanilla extract and real maple syrup)
  • cocoa almond (using cacao liqueur, almond extract, and half and half)

CREDIT: Submitted by "LindaK" on

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cookie Bouquet

My sister gave me this KitchenAid mixer for my birthday, and her only condition was that she gets the first thing that I make with it. Hmm...I knew that this had to be something good. She's a chocolate fan, but I've already been doing so much chocolate lately, I thought I'd try a Cookie Bouquet. After scouring the internet for days searching for the perfect recipe, I finally found it. I used the "Michelle Bommarito’s Sugar Cookies For Sticks" recipe that I found on the Cookie Madness blog.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks butter, unsalted, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of almond extract
Meringue-Powder Icing

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg, salt and both extracts.

Slowly add flour mixture (1 cup at a time) and stir until incorporated

Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (I found that it needed to refrigerate overnight in my refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 375°. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to approximately 5/8″ thick. Cut the cookies into shapes and place the cut cookie shape on a parchment lined cookie; Poke a stick into cookies.

Bake the cookies for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown in color. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.


I tried two different methods of putting the stick into the cookie. The first was to press the stick into the back of the cookie, then cover it with a bit of rolled dough and press it together. This method tended to let the cookies "spin" around the stick after they were baked.

The second was to carefully push the stick straight up into the cookie. I think that this method worked the best, but I had to be really careful to go STRAIGHT and level into the cookie. I had a few that were slightly at an angle and had to re-roll the cookies.

Cookies cooling on their sticks after being baked. Be sure that the cookies are COMPLETELY cool before trying to frost them.

My friend, Stacey, was in town and helped decorate the cookies. For this particular icing recipe, we found the easiest method is to use a knife to frost the cookies, then gently shake the cookies back and forth to smooth out the icing before it sets. This seems so much easier to me then the outline-and-flood method!

Our cookies setting out to dry. We frosted each cookie with a different color and let that set. The dots in the middle of the flowers were "painted" on with a cookie stick. When that was dry, we used a piping bag to pipe on the white outline. Be sure to let the icing COMPLETELY dry (preferably overnight) before bagging them up or stacking them.

Once the cookies were dry, we stuck them inside a clear cookie/treat bag (you can find them at large craft stores in the baking aisle) and wrapped the bottom with a silver twist tie. To make our bouquet, we put floral foam into the bottom of a 6" clay pot (I used a 6" round ball). We then stuck the cookies in at various heights and angles, then stuffed the moss around the bottom of the sticks to cover the foam. In hindsight, it would have been MUCH easier to lay the moss down, then stick the cookies in. A pretty pink bow was the finishing touch.

Ashley with her cookie bouquet! She loved it! :)

CREDIT: "Michelle Bommarito’s Sugar Cookies For Sticks" from the Cookie Madness blog

Meringue-Powder Icing

Your typical royal icing recipe, ideal for cookies.

2 Tbs meringue powder
1/4 cup water
2 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Paste or gel food coloring as desired

In a bowl, beat meringue powder and water until combined. Beat in powdered sugar. Divide into smaller bowls and tint as desired with food coloring.

If you're having a hard time finding meringue powder and paste or gel food coloring, check out a hobby store, such as Jo-Ann or Michaels or take a look at the Wilton website. I personally use the 8 Icing Colors gel coloring set from Wilton.

CREDIT: Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publication - "100 Best Cookies - Our Most Popular Holiday Recipes", p.69, c. 2007