Praise the heavens! I got a new cookbook! I think I was in a cookbook rut. I found myself relying on the same two cookbooks day after day for my baking indulgence. Granted, they’re great cookbooks- charming, attractive and funny- but I had heard all their stories, seen all of their dress shirts, and laughed at all their jokes. I needed something new.
Just when I was about to accept my circumstance, a charming new love came into my life. Sweets by Patty Pinner is my new darling. This book is more than just a collection of recipes. Sweets is a gathering of family memories. In my life food is all about family and memories, so this book has quickly become so so dear to my heart.
Sweets is a southern style cookbook. The recipes are extremely approachable. Some of the cakes are made with (gasp!) cake mix, and then fancied up with additional ingredients. The family pictures are utterly charming and the stories that go along with each recipe are really touching. I read this book, cover to cover on an airplane, like a novel. I just love it!
Let me tell you about this strawberry cake. First things first- it’s sweet and moist and covered in cream cheese frosting and pink tinted coconut. The best part? It’s pink on the inside. Pink! Come on! Who doesn’t like pink cake? This is the kind of dessert that needs to be presented on your prettiest cake platter, under the spot light in your china cabinet. It’s a show cake. But it’s also really delicious. And… with the fabulous presentation of the cake, and the inevitable oooohs and aaaaahs you’ll get from guests, you’ll NEVER have to tell anyone just how easy it was to make. It’ll be our little secret.
Southern Style Strawberry Cake
1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello
1 Tablespoon self rising flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition Add the water and strawberries and mix well. Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks. Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
pink food coloring
4 sliced strawberries
To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain. Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Beat until incorporated. Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated. If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk. If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.
Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die. Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately. Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries. Enjoy! Happy Strawberry Summer!