Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake

6:14 AM

HAPPY 6TH BIRTHDAY!!
Today Thing Two turned six, and he has been so excited about his birthday! Every day for the past month he has woken up early, stood at my bedside until I felt his little eyes staring into my forehead, thus waking me up, all for him to announce "XX more days until my birthday!" Yes, thats my boy, and he does it every single year. He is good at countdowns. An odd quality, but everyone needs to have their hidden talents I suppose. Along with his birthday countdown, he has been reminding me, daily, about how he wants a strawberry cake. His sister teased him that it would be a pink cake (and it was), but he is manly enough to handle pink. He L.O.V.E.S. strawberry. He's definitely my boy :)
On my quest to find a from-scratch recipe, I stumbled across a Paula Deen recipe. Now, I looove her accent, her charm, and her show, but for health's sake, I avoid her dishes like the plague! I decided a birthday cake could be the exception to the rule, and after reading the reviews, decided to go with her strawberry cake. And yes, I realize it isn't totally from-scratch since it uses a box of cake mix, but there was enough other ingredients to doctor it up to make me feel like I put an effort into the cake.

This cake was super sweet, super strawberry-y, and super good! The puree used in the batter makes the cake very moist and delicious, and I allowed the puree to have a few small chunks just as a little bonus. A lot of the reviews I read said that the cream cheese icing was way too sweet (it calls for 7 cups of powdered sugar!!). I heeded the advice of some of the posters and added sugar 1/2 cup at a time, and I think I ended up using a smidge over 3 cups, and it still ended up very sweet. Also, there was no strawberry extract in my commissary (surprise, right?) so I substituted with vanilla extract. It wasn't missed, so go with the vanilla if you can't find the strawberry. The icing turns out somewhat "runny" and I had to keep the cake refrigerated to keep the icing from oozing off (can you tell from the last picture?). Also, I ended up only using half of the icing, so you can probably halve the frosting recipe. Over all, my kids oooh'd and aaah'd over how good it was, and so did I. I may not be good at making pretty cakes, but I made a pretty good cake, if I do say so myself!
Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Serves 8

Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners' sugar (add 1/2 cup at a time to accommodate taste)
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:

1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

2. Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

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