You know what? Practice really does make perfect.
I mean, a year and a half ago, I didn't even know how to make a cake without some sort of boxed mix. But now? Now I can turn out beauties like this strawberry chunk cake without any trouble at all. And my cake baking skills didn't just appear overnight. Nope, they took a lot of practice to develop. The path to cake-baking mastery was a long road, and I made several mistakes along the way. I over-mixed batters, I left cakes in the oven until they were bone-dry, and this one time I even forgot to grease my cake pans. But each time I made a cake mistake, I learned something new. And thanks to all those little lessons, today I can consistently produce delicious cakes every time I turn on the oven.
So if you are a novice cake baker, then let me encourage you to stick with it. Keeping baking, making mistakes, and learning, and you'll be a cake making master before you know it!
I made this lovely strawberry chunk cake for my fiance's birthday. The recipe below is for a three-layer cake, but since I only own two round cake pans and was pressed for time, I ended up baking only two of the layers and then frosting them extra thickly. (I later used the leftover batter for the third layer to make two mini-loaf cakes, which I sent to my parents for Easter.)
But even with only two layers, this cake was really tasty. The cake itself is a basic vanilla butter cake that is studded with chunks of beautiful red strawberries. The cake is lightly sweet and buttery and whenever you bit into a strawberry chunk you are greeted with burst of wonderful berry flavor. And the meringue-style buttercream that goes with this cake is just awesome. It's light and airy in texture, but is rich, sweet, and buttery in taste. And just like the cake, the frosting is filled with juicy chunks of strawberry that provide a refreshing berry flavor.
This cake has a lot of steps, so it is a bit time consuming to make. However, each step is relatively easy, so just take it one step at a time and you'll be fine. And a little practice always helps. :)
This recipe is adapted from the strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream recipe posted over at Bake your heart out:
Strawberry Chunk Cake
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c butter (room temperature)
2 1/2 c sugar
1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c milk
2 c fresh strawberries (hulled and chopped)
4 egg whites
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 c fresh strawberries (hulled and chopped)
1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the egg white and the vanilla extract.
4. In three additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture, beating well between each addition. (i.e. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat well, add 1/3 of the milk, beat well, etc.) Gently stir in the chopped strawberries.
5. Evenly divide the finished batter among three well-greased 9" round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
6. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. To make the frosting, place the sugar and egg whites into a heatproof metal bowl and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the mixture until it registers 165° on a food thermometer, which will take about 3 minutes.
8. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat the egg and sugar mixture on medium speed until it cools, which will take about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter one stick at a time, beating well between each addition.
9. After the last of the butter has been added, beat the frosting on medium-high speed for another 6-10 minutes, or until the frosting is white, shiny, and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the chopped strawberries.
10. To assemble the cake, place the first layer of cake on a cake stand. Spread 1/3rd of the frosting on top of this cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the first and then spread 1/3rd of the frosting on top of the second layer. Place the final layer of cake on top of the first two layers and use the remaining 1/3rd of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Because the frosting has fresh, uncooked fruit in it, I recommend storing this cake covered in the fridge. My cake started to get a bit stale after five days, so I don't recommend keeping your cake for much longer than that.