A few weeks back (Fourth of July weekend, to be specific) I decided that it was the perfect time to christen my brand new pink Kitchen Aid mixer*. I was attending a family gathering, and told my mom I would bring dessert. I scoured the interwebs for a few days, before finally settling on a recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s website.
Now, The Pioneer Woman has never steered me wrong. I made her famous lasagna when the Mr. and I were dating, and he was obsessed with it. I’ve made several of her other recipes since then, and they’ve all come out perfectly. I knew picking a recipe from her site would deliver.
I weighed all of my options, and while I personally lean heavily toward the “quadruple chocolate chunk brownie with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles” end of the spectrum, I knew that other people might not be quite so affectionate towards chocolate.
So, I picked something summery — her recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cake. It seemed relatively simple, plus — big bonus — I got to use one of my cute cake plates that I got as a shower gift for our wedding.
I decided to double the recipe, since there would be several people at the party and it didn’t seem to make a very tall cake. I didn’t encounter any problems doubling the recipe (unlike with some recipes I’ve tried and they double horribly — or maybe it’s just my wonky math skills) and I came out with two identical cakes. You cut the cakes in half to fill/frost them, but since I only bought 3 packages of strawberries, I sliced my cakes in half and had 1 half of a cake leftover. The Mr. and I nibbled at the “leftover” cake half, and it was actually good because I got a chance to sample it before I was at the party! (Side note: does anyone else have a teensy bit of anxiety when bringing baked goods to a party? I’m always afraid that they’re going to taste horrible…even though they never do. Ok, end of me being neurotic.)
Since I baked my cake layers the night before, the next morning I mixed up what seemed like a mountain of cream cheese frosting. Maybe I was using too small an amount of frosting, but I had a lot leftover (not that having extra cream cheese frosting is a bad problem to have). If you’re going to make this recipe and double it, I’d double the cake recipe but maybe add another 1/4 to the frosting recipe, not 1/2.
Finally, after macerating ($5.00 word!) my strawberries, and slicing my cakes in half, it was time to frost, baby! The layers were as follows: cake layer, strawberry layer, frosting layer. Repeat this two more times, and voila! You’re finished layering.
Mmmm, cream cheese & strawberries.
All layered up, chillin’ in the fridge.
Now…here’s where I would change the recipe slightly if I was making this again. The recipe instructs you to frost all the way around the side of the cake. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about extra frosting on my cake (and didn’t, since I followed the recipe and frosted the sides of mine when I made it). But, in retrospect, I sort of like the look of being able to see all of the layers of cake and strawberry and frosting. That’s just my opinion, though!
The completed cake — never mind the milk next to it.
Additionally…I highly highly suggest frosting/filling this bad boy as close to serving it as possible. I made mine in the morning and finished around 10:00 AM, but it wasn’t served until after dinner around 6:00 PM. Everyone at the party raved about the cake and how amazing it was, but to be honest…it was a little soggy for my tastes. A large amount of strawberry juice soaked into the cake layers, and while a little bit of this is delicious…too much of it makes for a soggy cake. So, I’d either drain off some of the strawberry juice or frost and fill it right before you serve it.
So, my final review: even though I’d do a few things differently next time I make this recipe, the cake had a great summery strawberry flavor — and the cream cheese frosting is one of the best that I’ve tasted.
*Also: If anyone has a great nickname for the mixer, I’m taking suggestions! So far I’ve come up with “Pinky”, which is terrible and not even an option. So, I’m all ears.
Do you have a go-to summer dessert recipe? I’d love to hear about it!