This cake was made in honour of my eldest son’s fourth birthday. Unlike his older sister, he hadn’t been talking on end about what he wanted his birthday cake to look like. A few days before his birthday, I asked him what he wanted it to be. He said he wanted “green icing.” (He’s been admiring the Incredible Hulk recently. I really hoped his next request wasn’t going to be a cake shaped like the Incredible Hulk.) “Anything else?” I asked, “what would you like in the cake?” “I want a strawberry cake,” he said. I didn’t know at first how I was going to tackle it. I’ve never made a strawberry cake before, at least not one that didn’t come from a mix, only cake with strawberries, but my mother-in-law managed to make a blue cake for him, blue icing and all, with blueberries, for his third birthday, so I thought I could manage to make a strawberry one.
The green icing was a challenge. I didn’t know what to use for colouring, since I wanted to use something natural. After racking my brains, I remembered I had some liquid chlorophyll in the fridge. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a concentrated liquid supplement made from plants, mostly alfalfa. If you use it, make sure the brand you use is gluten-free and has no extra additives. If you can’t get liquid chlorophyll or don’t want to buy a whole bottle just to make green icing then I suppose you could drain some frozen spinach and use the juice or use a store-bought colour paste, whatever you prefer. In case you were wondering with the chlorophyll, it tastes like sweet fresh greens on its own, but none of this gets transferred to the icing. The icing wasn’t really a bright green, more like a light pastel spring green. It was green enough to make my son happy though.
I found the cake and icing recipes on Foodaphilia. Thanks E for sharing such nice recipes. I mashed up some strawberries and added them to the cake itself. I made a vanilla mousse, using Ghirardhelli’s recipe for chocolate mousse, adding two extra egg yolks to it (so I wouldn’t have to find a way to use them up or throw them away), leaving out the chocolate and adding vanilla extract. For the icing, I left out the peanut butter and added lemon juice and lemon extract. Brian had suggested mint, but that didn’t win me over. I knew strawberry and mint could be good together but I wasn’t entirely convinced. To assemble the cake, I put one layer down, then spread strawberry jam on it, added cut up fresh strawberries, then vanilla mousse, then the top layer, the icing, and whole fresh strawberries.
There was plenty of strawberry in that cake. The lemon in the icing paired well with the strawberries, but it would have been just as good with vanilla extract instead. The cake ended up with sort of a custardy texture which could have been the use of tapioca flour, but could have been my getting distracted, not noting that the recipe said to alternate the wet and dry ingredients, and adding all the wet first, then the dry. The cake probably missed out on some aeration that it would have gotten otherwise. The vanilla mousse was a nice accompaniment. The recipe makes 2-3 times what you need, so you’ll have leftovers or could cut the batch. I suppose if you wanted to skip the icing, you could use the extra mousse on top of the cake instead. The creaminess of the mousse goes so well with the strawberries. Enjoy!
Very Strawberry Cake
170g (3/4 cup) butter
340g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
220g (2 cups) gluten-free flour blend (I used white rice flour, tapioca flour, and arrowroot starch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites
177 ml (3/4) cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
about 10 strawberries (100g) , mashed
Preheat oven to 175C(350F). Grease two 20cm (9 inch) round cake tins. Cream butter and sugar together until light in texture. In a separate bowl, mix together gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, and salt. In a cup or another bowl, mix together egg white, milk, and vanilla extract.
Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the creamed butter and sugar, then half the milk mixture, 1/3 of the flour mix, the other half of the milk mixture, then the last of the flour mix. Add the mashed strawberries and fold them in.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tins, on rack for five minutes, then flip cakes gently out onto rack and let them cool completely.
6 large egg yolks
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
475 ml (2 cups) cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat yolks on high until they are thick in texture and pale yellow in colour. Add sugar and beat until well incorporated and mixture thickens up. Heat half the cream in a saucepan until just hot, not boiling.
Pour half the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture and stir, the pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the hot cream. Over low heat, cook about five minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens up and comes together.
Add vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled. Beat the other half of the cream until stiff and fold it into the chilled vanilla mixture. Refrigerate until needed.
225g (1 cup) butter, softened
220g (2 cups) icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon extract (may substitute with vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon liquid chlorophyll
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice, lemon extract, and liquid chlorophyll and mix until combined and colour is even.
about 10 strawberries (100 g), cut into small pieces
140g (5 oz) strawberry jam
about 10 strawberries (100g), with stems left on
Place bottom layer on a plate or cake pedestal. Spread with strawberry jam. Arrange cut up strawberries evenly over the jam. Put dollops of 1/3rd to half the vanilla mousse on top of the strawberries and jam. Place the top layer gently on top of the mousse. Some may ooze out the sides. I think it’s decorative and pretty if you can see some of it. To cut down on the ooze factor, if that bothers you, you can refrigerate the mousse until well chilled before using (or make it the day before) and/or use less mousse.
Spread the green icing over the top layer, just on the top. Even if you spread it thickly, you’ll have leftovers. Since you’re not icing the sides of the cake, you could cut the icing recipe in half if you wanted. Arrange whole strawberries on top of the icing and add candles, if needed. Enjoy!