strawberry n cream — mother’s day wishes

by hungryrabbit on May 6, 2011

Strawberry n Cream Cake

I’ve been contemplating the sources of my interest in food and preferences for certain flavors. My upbringing set the compass for my culinary path, of course.  Growing up eating Chinese food, specifically Hong Kong style Cantonese cuisine, dominated my developing taste buds, but my parents’ willingness to expose us to other cuisines from the East and West opened up the world of possibilities.

My parents taught me to enjoy food, savor every bite and true to the Chinese culture–NEVER waste food. Being a 12 pound new born hungry rabbit, that was never a problem. I don’t remember what age I was when my Mom told me, “We won’t buy you everything, but there will always be food for you.” These words gave me the security and comfort of a family and the importance of how food can nourish beyond the basics- they nourish and pamper my soul.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I have fond memories of hanging out at my Mom’s office after regular Saturday dentist appointment for braces. She and my Dad would take me out to lunch as a last meal before the effect of the tightened braces sets made eating so much less enjoyable.

We would also stop by the famous Maria’s Bakery to get cakes and pastries for the weekend. My Mom’s theory was cakes and pastries don’t require a lot of chewing so I could still enjoy them during the braces adjustment period. (How could you not love a Mom that’s so sensible?)

I had many favorites at Maria’s, but my Mom loved a certain Strawberry Cake with Whipped Cream Icing, and so did I. However, after years of exploration and expanding my taste and flavor profiles, I find that particular cake lacks the strawberry intensity that I want now.

So for this Mother’s Day, I have recreated the cake with as much strawberries as a cake can hold. Though I won’t be with my Mom this weekend, I send her my love. This cake definitely reminded me of the sweet memories of childhood, not to mention the constant reminder that she went through 6 hours of touch and go labor/natural birth to bring to the world a happy eating rabbit.

Strawberry n Cream Cake

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1 tablespoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
1-1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

2-1/2 pounds fresh strawberries (medium or large, use 3 quarts), washed, dried, reserve 8-10 strawberries (stems in tacked) for decoration
4–6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rum
Pinch table salt

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 by 2-inch cake line with parchment paper, grease and flour, set aside.

2. Add lemon zest and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in large mixing bowl, rub with fingers until sugar is slightly moist and takes on a pale yellow color. Add flour, baking powder, salt, whisk to combine. add 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water and both extracts; whisk until smooth.

3. In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form,about 2 minutes. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.

5.  Stemmed and halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2-3/4 cup). Place macerated berries in food processor fitted with metal blade, give it five 1-second pulses (you should have about 2 cups).

6. In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and rum until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.

1. Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed.

1. Using large serrated knife, slice cake into three even layers. Place bottom layer on cake plate and arrange half of the strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently. Repeat with remaining strawberry halves and berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with reserved strawberries. Chill for 1-2 hours.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Maris (In Good Taste) May 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

This is a very sweet post that your mom will love. Now-12 lb newborn! Yikes! Beautiful cake!

Daydreamer Desserts May 6, 2011 at 9:14 am

I totally got goose bumps when you quoted your mother saying although they wouldn’t buy you everything there will always be food for you, because that’s exactly what my mother would tell me when I was a little girl. :) And now, for some reason… I have a huge craving for strawberries, cake, and tons of whipped cream.

Courtney May 6, 2011 at 9:48 am

What a beautiful post, and a beautiful cake to top it off! :)

Georgie May 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

It’s obvious that you grew up wrapped in loads of love within your storytelling! Beautiful, stunning photographs not to mention the incredible recipe perfect for this time of year!

sweetsugarbelle May 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

I honestly said oh wow outloud when I saw the inside of this cake. OH WOW. THATS intense. Now, I am going to say, ” YOU WEIGHED 12LBS WHEN YOU WERE BORN?! NATURALLY” Mom deserves a Mercedes for Mom’s day, LOL! But seriously, I love the superstrawberry version!

merry jennifer May 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Beautiful, Ken. The post and the cake. Happy Mother’s Day to your mom. :)

My Man's Belly May 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

That looks like an awesome cake! I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use some extra strawberries…and this might just be the way.

cathy May 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I just carried around three five pound bags of sugar, just to see what it must have been like to cart you around Hong Kong! Your mother must love you very much. I can tell you love her. Beautiful cake. xo

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Looks just lovely! I can’t wait until we have good local strawberries around here… I’m bookmarking this recipe and making it with the first berries I find!

WHN May 7, 2011 at 5:51 am

Nice, Ah Dee! Beautiful…post & creation! When do we get to meet your mom?

Linda @ Lemon Drop May 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

2 words: YES PLEASE !

Lisa (This Little Piggy) May 7, 2011 at 9:32 am

LOVE, LOVE IT. I can’t be with my mum for Mother’s Day but she will be here later this month for her birthday. This is such a perfect Mom Cake. Thanks!!

Yuri May 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

What a gorgeous cake!

Madeline May 7, 2011 at 11:04 am

Beautiful post and what a beautiful cake. Wishing you and your mother a Happy Mother’s Day!

KENNECTED May 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thats a gorgeous cake and post! I gained 10 lbs just looking at the pics!

Brian @ A Thought For Food May 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Such a thoughtful ode to your mom. And I can’t think of a nicer way to celebrate the day than with such a wonderful memory (and cake).

Nichol May 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

Beautiful post, and beautiful cake!

Jamie May 9, 2011 at 4:02 am

This is really beautiful! I was just thinking of strawberries galore since they are just showing up on the market and now you have truly inspired me! I also think that one can’t have too many berries on a cake like this. Lucky mom (if she could have tasted it).

Jeanne @ CookSister! May 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

That looks almost too good to eat. Almost!!

Greg May 9, 2011 at 11:32 am

I love everything about this cake! So gorgeous too. Perfect for mom.

foodwanderings May 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

What a nice tribute to your mom. Just fyi I was craving a strawberry shortcake for Mother’s Day yesterday. A slice of your straberries and cream would have been perfect. :) Love this post as always!

Junia @ Mis Pensamientos May 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm

this looks FABULOUS! oh wow~~

Dawn @ Kitchen Lore July 4, 2011 at 4:59 am

Beautiful. My Chinese mother would love this cake as well.

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