Strawberry Frosting – Without Dyes or Artificial Flavors

As a companion to the White(ish) Layer Cake, I was looking for a recipe that didn’t require food coloring or strawberry puree and came across this one at Your Cup of Cake.  This was the perfect addition to fill and cover the White(ish) Layer Cake. Recipe as follows:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg (1.2 oz) of freeze-dried strawberries (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 t lemon juice, or milk
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C powdered sugar, 1 C more if needed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Dump your freeze dried strawberries into a food processor. Be sure and take out the little white packet inside, this packet keeps out any moisture but it’s not edible. Finely crush the berries in your food processor or blender.

    Trader Joe's Dehydrated Strawberries
    Trader Joe’s Dehydrated Strawberries
  2. Pour into a sifter to remove any larger chunks, and discard what doesn’t go through the sifter.

    Butter and Sifted Strawberries
    Butter and Sifted Strawberries
  3. In a stand mixer, beat sifted strawberries and butter until smooth.
  4. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat again.
  5. Slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Cupcakes will need a stiffer frosting while a cake can be a little more soft. To check, I always pull out my spatula and swipe my finger through the frosting. If the frosting keeps it’s shape and doesn’t sink, you’re good to go!

I wanted to call this “Natural Strawberry Frosting”, but mother nature doesn’t freeze-dry strawberries.  It’s probably the most natural you’ll get for really colorful frosting!

To avoid writing on the cake and possibly ruining it with my not-so-great frosting script, I topped the cake with some fresh strawberries that Kevin picked up from the farmer’s market.  However, they were so juicy that they “leaked” a bit on the drive over to the potluck!  Here’s a photo of the finished cake:

Strawberry Frosting - Without Dyes or Artificial Flavors
Strawberry Frosting – Without Dyes or Artificial Flavors

This frosting will definitely be a go-to for me.  It wasn’t too sweet thanks to the lemon juice.  You can always add more lemon juice to make it more tart too!

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White(ish) Layer Cake

For Mother’s Day with Kevin’s side of the family, I wanted to make a white cake with strawberry frosting.  However, I ended up turning this into a white(ish) cake because I couldn’t bring myself to only use the egg whites that the recipe called for and waste 6 egg yolks!  After a teeny adjustment, here is the recipe as adapted by Cook’s Illustrated:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/4 C cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 Cwhole milk, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs** (3/4 C), at room temperature
  • 2 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 C granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1 t table salt
  • 12 T unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

**Use 6 large egg whites (3/4 C) at room temp if you want a true WHITE cake.  The yolks are what gave this cake the light yellow hue.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
  2. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

    Moist Crumbs!
    Moist Crumbs!
  3. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

    Don't Over Beat
    Don’t Over Beat
  4. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.)
  5. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours before frosting.

    White(ish) Layer Cake
    White(ish) Layer Cake

The strawberry frosting recipe will be coming soon, but here’s a peek at the finished product!

White(ish) Layer Cake with Strawberry Frosting
White(ish) Layer Cake with Strawberry Frosting

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

For another Hirata family birthday potluck celebration last month, I made a birthday cake using my new go-to chocolate layer cake recipe, this time, with a classic vanilla buttercream that I stumble upon browsing Add A Pinch.  It was a triple celebration for Kevin, his mom, and his uncle:

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

The great thing about buttercream is you can totally customize it to whatever consistency you want it to be – stiffer, creamier, the frosting world is your oyster!

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 C butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3-4 C confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2 t vanilla
  • Pinch of salt (sea salt is my preference)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
 INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, half a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

I took a wee bit of the leftover frosting and added a few drops of red food coloring to make it pink.  I didn’t have a small enough piping tip, so I put the pink frosting into a ziploc baggie and snipped a corner to write the happy birthday, and then created the “flowers” using a closed star tip.  And yes, I am aware that I have had better cake decorating days.

Pre-Piping
Pre-Piping

The frosting was sweet, but not too sweet.  If you want your frosting to be a little less sweet, add a little bit more salt (another small pinch or two).  The salt really balances out sweetness in frosting, but doesn’t necessarily make the frosting salty by any means…unless you over do it.

Birthday Candle Blowout!
Birthday Candle Blowout!

I made a batch of strawberry ice cream to go with the cake too.  Yup – I get things done! The ice cream recipe will follow soon!

Hot Chocolate Frosting

2014’s Holiday Bake-A-Thon wasn’t as busy as previous years have been.  I didn’t have time to do a lot of research and test runs of new recipes, so I ended up making some crowd pleasers from past holiday seasons, including Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, Green Tea Sugar Cookies, Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles, and Furikake Chex Mix.  I did try out one new recipe for a chocolate cupcake with hot chocolate frosting – the perfect cold-weather themed treat!  I keep reposting my favorite Guiness Chocolate Cupcake recipe that is truly my go-to recipe, so I’ll spare you from that. Here’s the recipe for the frosting portion as adapted from Cookies and Cups!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Hot Chocolate Frosting
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Hot Chocolate Frosting

I made this for a two different parties, one with and one without the peppermint and I did find some people just don’t like mint and chocolate together, while others just do.  If I made this again, I’d make half the batch with the mint and half plain.  I found the Cookies and Cups’ version to be a little too sweet, so the second time around, I added a wee bit of salt to mellow it out a little.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 4 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C dry hot chocolate mix (about 2 packets; without mini marshmallows)
  • 1/3 C + 1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a small saucepan combine hot chocolate mix and cream. Heat over medium until hot and steaming…not quite boiling, stirring consistently. You want the sugar in the hot chocolate to dissolve. Set aside to cool.

    Hot Chocolate Mix and Heavy Cream
    Hot Chocolate Mix and Heavy Cream
  2. In large mixing bowl cream butter until smooth.
  3. Add in powdered sugar and salt, and mix until combined. It will be very dry.

    Add Hot Chocolate Mixture
    Add Hot Chocolate Mixture
  4. Turn mixer to low and slowly pour in your hot chocolate mixture (I learned the second time around that it’s easier than throwing it all in and then mixing it together). Once all is added turn mixer up to medium and beat for about a minute until light and fluffy, scarping down sides of bowl when necessary.

    Ready for Spreading
    Ready for Spreading
  5. Spread or pipe on cupcakes.

    Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
    Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
  6. (OPTIONAL): If you want to make mint hot chocolate frosting, just pulverize some of your leftover candy canes in a food processor and sprinkle over the top.  I saw these pink mint-flavored marshmallows at Target and thought it sounded good but it didn’t look that appealing (see gallery).

It made for a great winter-y holiday treat!

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m severely backlogged on posts due to some fun and not-so-fun distractions stemming from the last few weeks, but I’m trying to make some headway here!

Jared’s New Year’s resolution for 2012 was to only eat desserts that were homemade, so Bernie and I wanted to bake for his birthday last month.  Bernie churned out some fantabulous Cherry Garcia cookies, and I took a little culinary leap of faith on  these Blue Moon cupcakes.  Jared is a big beer guy and loves Blue Moon, so I thought a combination of something delectable with beer could be fun. I found the recipe on Erica’s Sweet Tooth.

Ingredients!

After baking the cupcakes, I was worried that there wasn’t going to be enough of a Blue Moon taste to them considering the alcohol probably burned off in the baking process.  I went ahead brushed the tops of the cupcakes with the left over beer, despite the fact that my entire kitchen smelled like Blue Moon by the time they came out of the oven.

Ready for Blue Moon Basting!

Ever since I made those Mummy Cupcakes last Halloween, I’d also been wanting to learn how to make my cupcakes look prettier. I bought a couple of frosting tips from Michael’s but neglected to get a coupler.  So, I made another makeshift pastry bag and rigorously scotch-taped the tip to the parchment paper. #ghettofabulous

Makeshift Frosting Bag - First Time Using a Piping Tip!

The frosting was sweet and lighter than your typical cream cheese frosting.  I probably added about twice as much orange zest than the recipe called for to help with the orange flavoring.  If you like the taste of Blue Moon, you will like these cupcakes. If you don’t like the taste of beer in general, you probably won’t like these. Plain and simple!

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Hoping to get caught up on the rest of the backlog soon! Lights out for now!