Sunday, April 22, 2012

Strawberry Cake Saturday

when life hands you lemons…
you take the zest of the lemon and a bit of its juice and incorporate it into a white cake batter.  
you take another one of those life-lemons and zest it into some mascarpone cheese, whip with three tablespoons of powdered sugar and then fold into a big pile of whipped cream.
then you make a two layer cake with sliced strawberries in the middle and throw the leftover strawberries on top. 
you also have your three year old daughter do the frosting so that you have a good excuse for baking a cake… it’s educating your daughter, after all.  Yes, our children increasingly in need for us parents to step up to the plate and give them a better appreciation for food (lettuce?  it’s that shredded stuff in my daddy’s big mac, right?).  However I also firmly believe that all children should one day get to frost a cake with sugar aerated within dairy fat molecule chains.  It really is important.
then you come to terms with the reality that the real education is that there are some foods that just should be made at home and eaten.  that there are some days when you need to give your elliptical machine the finger and consume lovely angel-food-esque white cake covered in early-spring strawberries.  With a mug of peppermint tea afterwards. 
and you must, must, must, lick your fingers after folding the mascarpone into the whipped cream.  and after frosting the cake.
and, while this is optional (actually it really isn’t), you may save some of the mascarpone topping for pancakes the next morning.  
these sort of days come every now and then and are not to be confused with the difficult days when things just don’t go your way.  The days when you could have sworn God decided that was the day the world shall test thy patience.  Those days are not the same as these days.  These days are for celebrating with cake because cake is delicious.  That’s it.  That’s where it ends. You eat cake on these days because the fruit is pretty and the day is pleasant.
I think sometimes I miss out on these days because so much of my days go to purpose.  The food I cook is carefully thought out to balance carbohydrates with mono-saturated fats to minimize our fat and cholesterol levels while optimizing flavor and salt levels.  To minimize the driving distance to the store to save gas so we can hit green on this month’s food budget.  Everything gets obsessed with purpose.  
not today.  I chose not to miss out today.
White Cake with fresh strawberries and mascarpone-whipped cream topping
Cake recipe adapted from p.193 of “The Perfect Finish” by Bill Yosses
1 cup cake flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
finely grated zest of one lemon (juice of half)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 small container mascarpone cheese
scant 1/4 cup powdered sugar
finely grated zest of one lemon + 3 tablespoons juice
1 box good tasting strawberries

sift flour with baking powder and salt.
break eggs into bowl and whip on medium until foamy.  Add sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
mix oil with lemon stuff and vanilla extract and 1/4 cup water.
fold flour mixture into whipped eggs in three parts, incorporating the flour completely before adding the next amount.
fold oil mixture into batter until incorporated.
be gentle, we want the whipped egg structure to keep the cake light and bouncy.
Pour batter into a buttered, floured 9-inch springform pan, bake at 350 deg F for about 30-40 minutes until center is clean to a tester.
cool on a rack for at least one hour.
meanwhile, whip the whipping cream to medium peaks (glossy but still silky… high peaks are when the cream just begins to look sturdy and almost partially chunky… the heat from friction can begin to cook the egg whites).  scrape into a clean, dry bowl then whip mascarpone cheese with powdered sugar and lemon stuff until fluffy soft.  Fold mascarpone into whipping cream until incorporated for the most part.  I wouldn’t bother trying for full mix because we don’t want to deflate the whipping cream.  
slice half your strawberries and then halve the rest.
slice cake in half, frost with a thin layer of whipped topping, add sliced strawberries, frost with another thin layer of whipped topping.  Add top layer of cake, frost with remaining frosting to your preferences then finish with remaining strawberries.

oh and, finally, chloe decided it was her mom’s birthday cake so we followed suit.  
why not?

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