Perhaps, if you are a third grader, you do not recoil in horror when every strawberry cake recipe you consult calls for strawberry gelatin.
[Perhaps, if you are a third grader, you devote your time and energy not to consulting recipes, but to sucking on strawberry gelatin straight from the package, downing it with a fervor suggesting you consider it to be magical pink fairy nectar OR an adequate substitute for speed. We used to eat it this way on swim team—the stained fingers at every swim meet exposed the fact that all of us in Houston in the 70s were juicing on raw Jello.]
Not being a third grader, my dear friend recoiled in horror when she realized that all the recipes she could find called for strawberry gelatin. Some even suggested, shudder to think, beginning with a boxed cake mix.
I volunteered to create a strawberry cake for her office celebration.
I sliced three pints of strawberries and let them macerate overnight. I meant to, anyway. I forgot to add sugar. So, they macerated on their own overnight, then had about 20 minutes with 4 TBS of sugar to get a little juicier.
Went to a second old faithful for the frosting, your basic cream cheese frosting.
Cake layer, frosting, strawberries, cake layer, frosting, strawberries, cake layer, and crumb coat. That’s the status in the photo above, half-way through the crumb coat.
I’ve seen some beautiful versions of a cake like this in which the sides are un-iced, and whole strawberries ring the outer edges so they appear to hold up the next layer of cake. My strawberries were too wildly divergent size-wise to support a project like that, but I do think it would be lovely.
Here’s how it looked right before I popped it into the box for delivery:
Many strawberry cake recipes I saw that did not call for strawberry gelatin did call for a berry purée. Reading comments on those recipes, however, I saw a repeated complaint that the cake didn’t really have a strong strawberry taste.
I don’t have the time or inclination to do a side-by-side comparison right now, but if I had to guess, I’d say that cooking the strawberries knocks the taste down too many notches. No doubt this is why many recipes call for gelatin. I like the fresh cake with fresh berries approach, with just enough juice in the berries to begin to soak through into the cake.
Feedback on the cake was gratifying. Apparently, someone else in the office with a birthday next week suggested that he, too, might like a strawberry cake. With the endorsement of that team, I would like to officially name this cake the STSU Strawberry Cake. They know why.