Strawberries and Cream-Cheese Cake

We love cream-cheese frosting. What’s not to love about cream-cheese frosting? The crux of the issue is that the cake had until this point taken a back seat. It was basically a vehicle to obtain something more desirable; just a means to an end. Then you take something as delicious and simple as strawberries and cream. It’s all about the berry… okay and the cream. Well let’s just put them both together and have something outstanding. We don’t need to limit ourselves to carrot and red velvet cake. Besides strawberries are gorgeous, and scream summer time! And who’s ready for that? I know I am! Oh, and the best part, you don’t have to worry about keeping it chilled all day.

As organic as you can:

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs (room temperature)

2 pints strawberries, rinsed, dried, stemmed and halved (includes berries for topping)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 cup milk

Frosting:

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) softened

2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 1 1/2 inch round pans. (Side note: If you wanted to forgo the layers, you could totally do this in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Another side note: they make some great organic sprays for greasing your pans, otherwise do the classic thin even layer of butter and dusting of flour.)

In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and vanilla and beat (or cream) until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating them in as you go. Add lemon juice and beat again. Next, alternately add dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture; because it is a baking law. Just mix until combined.

Select about 5 of the berries and dice into small pieces. Then put those pieces on a plate (to catch juices that might escape on a cutting board,) and mash them with the back of a fork. Gently fold the berries into the batter. When all is combined, pour the batter equally into the two prepared cake pans.

Put the pans in the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you poke them in the center with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, making sure they have separated from the sides of the pans (you can trace the sides of the pans with a knife to help this if they haven’t,) flip the cakes over on to the wire racks to cool. You should notice the cakes have a nice density, perfect to stand up to the rich frosting. You probably also noted the cakes are dotted with lovely bursts of berries, and you’re thinking “those are fantastic just like that!” (That’s if they released from your pans of course…) Just wait. Let them cool completely before frosting.

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To prepare the frosting, add cream cheese and butter into a mixing bowl. Using a mixer, beat together until entirely combined and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese/butter mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. (Side note: I emphasize the “sift” portion of this direction, because if you’ve ever tried to skip this detail for any recipe, you know that unsifted powdered sugar balls are near impossible to beat out.) After the first 2 1/2 cups of sugar are incorporated, check for frosting for sweetness. I prefer a balance to still taste the tang of the cream cheese, but if you like it a little sweeter, add the rest of the sugar.

Place one of your cakes on top of a cake stand or plate. (If one of them came out not as pretty as the other, use that one.) Using half of your frosting mixture, spread it out evenly over the top of the cake. Then using half of your halved strawberries, place them randomly and evenly flat side down on top of the frosting. Next place the second cake on top of the frosted and berried cake. Using the remainder of the frosting, repeat the process. Then take a step back and admire your work, because layered cakes topped with white fluffy frosting and berries are beautiful to look at.

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