Apologies for being MIA lately! Unfortunately life (or more specifically, Uni) has got in the way of blogging again and although I’ve got a backlog of photos and tasty eats waiting to be shared with you all I just haven’t had the time to post them up.
This post is a bit special though, and it’s for my sister Charm who just turned 18 a few days ago but had a bit of a sad, uneventful birthday because it was smack bang in the middle of HSC study time. Not to mention that she has also been sick for the past 2 weeks and I couldn’t even take her shopping to buy a present for her.
So, cake it is! I do love baking cakes for people’s birthdays but I always struggle with coming up with ideas for what cake to bake. I figured something with strawberries since they’re in season and wonderfully sweet at the moment, plus something a little boozy since she is now of legal drinking age! Then I remembered Steph’s gorgeous Pink Champagne and Strawberry Cake and knew I had to do something similar for Charm’s birthday.
The strawberries feature in the cake itself, which has chunks of strawberries scattered throughout the batter, while the champagne (ok so I’m a bit poor to afford real champagne, so technically it’s sparkling wine) features in the buttercream icing. The flavour of the champagne is quite light and just slightly tart so that it offsets the sweetness of the cake, but my family, being Asian and all with an instilled fear of icing and cream in cakes (or is it just my family?), was still scraping the thicker layer of icing off from the top. This was probably due to my crappy uneven icing skills – it’s not as smooth as I would have liked but hey at least the layering of the cakes worked out well and it wasn’t collapsing!
Anyways, happy 18th birthday Charm and good luck with the HSC! We will go shopping, throw a proper birthday party and watch Vampire Diaries (maybe) once it’s all over!
Strawberry and Champagne Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart
For the cake
1 1/2 cups (185g) plain flour
1 1/2 cups (185g) self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
220g unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 (390g) cups caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (approx 300ml) milk
1 punnet (250g) strawberries, hulled and cut into small dice
1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Spray 2 round cake pans with nonstick spray, and line the bottoms with baking paper. (I only had one cake pan so I baked the two cakes one at a time and they turned out fine)
2. Sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set this aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined, and then beat in vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, then add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the milk, then another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour. Beat just until combined being careful not to overmix, and then fold in the strawberries.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and smooth tops with a spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, and the tops are just golden brown. Transfer the cakes in the pans to a wire rack to cool. When cooled, remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to the fridge to chill and firm up until you are ready to ice them.
For the buttercream
1 cup + 1 tbsp champagne or sparkling wine (If you prefer a stronger champagne flavour, use 2 cups + 1 tbsp)
200g salted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
1. Place 1 cup of the champagne into a small saucepan and reduce until you have one tablespoon of champagne syrup. If you are using 2 cups of champagne for a stronger flavour, reduce 2 cups of the champagne until there is about 2 tablespoons of syrup left. Set aside to cool.
2. Beat the butter and icing sugar until it is thick and fluffy, then add the champagne syrup and the tablespoon of champagne straight from the bottle. Beat until combined and fluffy.
3. Ice your cake by spreading the buttercream between the two cake layers, then spread thin layer of icing on the outside of the cake as your crumb coat. Refrigerate until the icing has hardened, then use the remainder of the icing to generously slather on top of the cake and on the sides. Decorate with strawberries if desired.