May 4th, 2010

The Strawberry Special

bills 60th b-day cake

Life is full of cycles and surprises.

Of late, my family circle has been experiencing a birthday cycle of the zero years, the “round birthdays,” as friend Lee calls them. It began with Madeleine’s 30th last September, followed by
my mom’s 80th in February, and now, gasp, Bill’s 60th.

For a man who 1. needs nothing and 2. is rather chagrined at the sound of …utter it in low, almost inaudible tones…Sixty, this particular birthday presented a bit of a challenge.

How to make something new…different…memorable?
A bonafide surprise party , that hadn’t been done for the man!

We did manage to pull it off, no easy feat. I had Bill convinced that while I had planned to give him a dinner party at our home on his actual birthday–a Monday—too many friends were unable to come that night. Jenn had to study for an exam, for starters. Wendy and Jim had to meet up with the relatives from Tupelo, no getting out of that.

” We’ll do it Friday, instead, when everyone can come. You don’t mind, do you?” I said.

A shake of the head. No.

“Roger invited us to the Indian restaurant,” I continued. “It’ll be fun.”

A smile and a nod.

Everyone was instructed to show up at said Indian restaurant at 6pm, with cars parked out-of-sight and a toast or a roast in hand. We’d arrive at 6:15.

It all worked like a symphony.

In the meantime, I had to furtively make this singular cake that ended up showcasing two of Bill’s faves: strawberry and chocolate.

To be truthful, I had started out to make a fresh strawberry cake, which would have been perfectly delicious in and of itself. But, then I remembered a lone layer of chocolate cake in the freezer—wouldn’t that be scrumptuous sandwiched between two strawberry ones?

Sometimes I surprise myself.

slice of strawberry cake

slice of strawberry cake

The strawberry cake is simple to make—and perfect timing:local berries are just now coming in. It is especially nice with cream cheese icing, recipe found here. If you add a chocolate layer, some chocolate ganache icing, and strawberries in syrup spread over the dense cake will push it over the top.

strawberry cake ingredients

Strawberry Cake
3 c. fresh Strawberries
11/2 c. Sugar
1 c. Butter, melted
1 c. Milk
1 t. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour, sifted twice
1 T. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
4 Eggs

2 9″ cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pulse strawberries in a food processor fitted with a swivel blade until pureed.
In a mixer, whip together strawberries with sugar, milk, vanilla. Beat in eggs., then flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour in melted butter and beat well. Pour into 2 (” cake pans that have been coated and lined with parchment. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove, cool on racks.

strawberry batter

upright strawberry cake slice

overhead strawberry cake

Post Script: What a difference a week can make: Nashville and surrounding counties have all been inundated by drastic rainfall–over 15″ in only two days. We had a flooded basement-about 8″ of water in Bill’s studio, but got it pumped out. Many, many friends have experienced much worse. A flood of historic proportions affecting unlikely, unforeseen places. All kinds of surprises in life—and all best thoughts to those who lost so much.

Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Recipes

21 Responses to “The Strawberry Special”
  1. Maggie Says:

    This does look and sound scrumptous! Happy Birthday to Bill!

  2. Tracy Says:

    I do believe you’ve created the best cake ever. I would have devoured a piece. Chocolate and strawberry…you genius. Oh, and I think we have the same yellow mixer. :)

    On the flood front…wow. I hope all is well and that not much damage fell. That is awful. Unbelievable amount of rainfall. The earth seems to be rather unhappy lately.

  3. Patsy Says:

    Nancy brought this in to First Cafe at Second Harvest for us to sample, and it was one – or should I say two? – delicious cake!

    So many people have lost so much that the repercussions of this flood will follow Nashville for years. A lot of the jobs lost at damaged tourist venues were those held by the working poor, making a poor economic situation even worse here -

  4. Barbara Says:

    Well, what I want to know, sister dear, is there any left? Possibly some frozen perhaps? That is the most beautiful cake I have ever seen! Maybe you can make a rendition of that one for hubby Ted’s 50th this summer! A great idea!!

  5. rachel Says:

    I love your cakes and very much hope to have a slice of one someday. I like the idea of adding the strawberries to the mixture and I be will trying this. The strawberries in syrup first though.
    Yes all the best to those who lost little and much…

  6. FOODESSA Says:

    Hello, first time on your blog.
    I just had to comment after having drooled over the idea that your cake just came to disturb my idea of the baking I was going to be doing for Mom’s birthday this weekend.
    It looks soooo decadent ;o)
    Thanks for sharing this lovely cake.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  7. K-Run Says:

    I have to say I had some of this lovely cake and it was Deeeeeeeeeelicous! Nancy you knocked it out the ballpark once again with this spectacular cake it tasted as wonderful as it looked.

  8. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I hope you are doing okay in light of the severe weather in your region — thank you for the update.

    This is beautiful cake, and the strawberries truly make the cake!

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tracy-thanks for the kind words. funny that we have the same yellow (dijon?) mixer. yes, it does seem that our planet is unhappy—so many strange strange storms and shifting plates…

    Barbara-no cake left, but we’ll make a great one for Ted—he’s got a round birthday coming up soon!

    Rach–someday we will have a slice of cake together!

    Foodessa Claudia-Welcome! Thanks for coming by and making such a nice comment; I shall visit your site very soon. Happy baking!

    Christine–I always appreciate your words.

  10. Nancy Says:

    Now that is my idea of the ultimate birthday cake! Stunning. The fresh strawberry cake seems so perfect for mother’s day, too – I might have to replicate it!

    Hope you are all faring well and drying out after the intense weather. Best to you!

  11. heather Says:

    Happy Birthday Bill! Amazing cake Nancy. I’m sorry to hear about the flooding in the basement, I hope all is dry now. My heart goes out to everyone there.

  12. Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth Says:

    I am even more sorry that I wasn’t able to attend Bill’s B’day and have some of this cake. I love cake and I really always love your cakes and I know just from reading and looking that this one was very special. I can just try and imagine it bite, by bite. YUM.

  13. Teresa Blackurn Says:

    I do love cake!

  14. Teresa Blackburn, Says:

    Did I say that this cake is also beautiful? It is like a jewel.

  15. Teresa Blackburn, Says:

    ….I forgot to say it is a beautiful cake as well. I like beautiful cakes.

  16. Madeleine Says:

    This cake inspired me. With sweet, local strawberries in hand and your recipe on my counter, I whipped up a strawb. cake in no time at all. And boy was it DELICIOUS! I still have a piece or two left and I’m already getting excited to have a slice for dessert tonight. Thanks!

  17. Brandi Says:

    Hi Nancy! I made this into cupcakes this past weekend and they were just FABULOUS! Thanks for the recipe!!!

  18. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Very Very Cool, Madeleine and Brandi! I love hearing about these strawberry successes!

  19. Kelli Says:

    I’m making this tonight for my sister’s college graduation – wish me luck!

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    GO KELLI !!! It will be GREAT! Have fun, too—

  21. Justin Says:

    Yowza! what a masterpiece, I have to try this.. and just in time for strawberry season in Maine

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