Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strawberry Checkerboard Cake

I had another opportunity to try out a new recipe and serve it to unsuspecting people! Another baby shower, yes we've had a lot of babies born to our staff this year, and this time it was for a girl. The mom-to-be requested either a chocolate or strawberry cake. I really wanted to do something fun so I decided to make a checkerboard cake again. The only problem was that I knew the raspberry checkerboard turned out really well but I wasn't sure if changing up the fruit would make a difference in the cake. I remember researching checkerboard cakes before and there being mixed reviews about moist versus dry and everything in between. I was a bit nervous to monkey around with the ingredients but I decided to give it a go.

I followed the raspberry checkerboard recipe, just switching out strawberries for raspberries. The cake came together similarly, although the white cake spread a bit more than the strawberry so my checkerboard didn't turn out exactly like a checkerboard this time.

Personally I didn't like this strawberry cake as much as the raspberry cake. Everyone at the shower raved about it, but remember, they were unsuspecting having never had the raspberry version before. Both my husband and I who have had both like the raspberry better. There just seemed to be a bit more of a distinct flavor between the two with the raspberry checkerboard. Still, this one was pretty good too. Enjoy!

Strawberry Checkerboard Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

Cake:24 ounces frozen strawberries
1 cup strawberry syrup, such as Torani
4 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
12 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
a few fresh strawberries for garnish

Tips: Spread the jam between layers very lightly to preserve the checkerboard effect.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Lightly coat the cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, combine frozen strawberries and strawberry syrup. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and continue cooking until liquid reduces by two-thirds.

Remove from heat and strain, pressing on the strawberries to release all the juices. There should be approximately 1 cup. Dispose of the strawberry pulp or reserve for another use. Add the food coloring, if using.

If there is more than 1 cup of juice, put in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce to 1 cup; cool to room temperature. If there is less than 1 cup, add enough water to equal 1 cup.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Divide the batter in half. To one half of the batter, beat in the 2 cups of the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the batter, beating after each addition until smooth. To the remaining batter, beat in the remaining flour mixture alternately with the strawberry syrup to the batter until smooth.

Place checkerboard divider into one prepared pan. Then spoon in the two batters (red and plain) as described in "How to use your Checkerboard Cake Set."

Place all 3 pans in oven at same time. Rotate pans halfway through baking. Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes rest in the pans, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Place a cooling rack on top of each cake, invert the cake and remove the pan. Cool completely.

Using no more than 1/4 cup of jam, frost a very thin layer on top of one of the white cakes and on the strawberry cake.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Beat in the almond extract. Reduce the speed to low and carefully drizzle the chocolate into the cream cheese. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Spread a thin layer of frosting on the jam-covered white cake. Place the strawberry cake on top of this cake and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Place the last white cake on top. Frost the sides and top of the checkerboard cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.