Saturday, February 14, 2015

Strawberry Upside-Down Valentine's Day Cake

Today is Valentine's Day!  And I wanted to try making something new.  Something suitable for Valentine's Day.  But I didn't know what it would be...

At the Farmers' Market, I bought a basket of strawberries.  (The great thing about living in coastal California, is that we have Farmers Markets – with fresh strawberries – all year round).  But I still didn't know what to do with them.   At Trader Joe's I picked up a pint of heavy cream.  That could surely be combined with strawberries in some way, but I was still aimless.

When we got home, I turned to Chef Google.  Searching for "valentine's day cake recipes" turned up this list which brought me to this recipe for Strawberry Upside-Down Cake.  But this was one of these semi-homemade kind of deals with marshmallows, jell-o mix, and boxed cake.  That just wouldn't do!  But it gave me the idea of where to start.

I could combine a simple strawberry pie filling recipe (strawberries + tapioca: done) with the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake from the indispensable Cake Bible, and a whipped cream frosting (with red food coloring to make it pink for Valentine's Day!).  Becky says this "might be the best cake [I've] ever made." And here it is!

Strawberry Upside-Down Valentine's Day Cake
Makes 1 9" Round Cake

For the cake:
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (161 g) whole milk
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 cups (200 g) cake flour
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter (slightly softened)

For the strawberries:
2.5 cups strawberries
1 Tbs instant tapioca

For the frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs powdered sugar
a few drops of red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cut off tops of strawberries and slice into thin slices.  Gently mix in a bowl with tapioca.  Set aside.

Combine yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl (preferably part of a stand mixer), combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt for 30 seconds.  Add butter and remaining milk, mix until combined.  Turn mixer to medium and beat for 1.5 minutes.  Scrape down sides.  Add egg mixture in 3 batches, beating at medium speed for 20 seconds each time.

For this cake, I used a 9" springform cake pan which I strongly recommend for easy removal without the cake falling apart.  Grease the pan, put a circle of parchment paper on the bottom, and grease again.  Lay out strawberry and tapioca mixture.  Pour cake batter on top, smoothing it out as best you can.  Put in oven for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.  (This takes longer than a plain cake because of the strawberries.)

When the cake is done, remove from the oven and put on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Release the sides of the pan (if you have a springform pan), and invert cake onto a large plate.  Gently peel off the parchment paper.  Leave cake to cool for at least an hour before icing.

For the icing, put heavy cream, powdered sugar, and red food coloring in a stand mixer bowl.  Beat with wire whisk until stiff and creamy.  Use a spatula to gently spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake.


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