The first time I ever had a strawberry cake it was made from scratch.
It was made by Sueann, an on-air NPR host, for Joan, a part-time NPR announcer, as a joint celebration: making it through breast cancer surgery and having a birthday, too.
Maybe it was just because we were all so thankful and happy to be alive–all of us, still alive–that the cake tasted so good. Maybe it was because it was one of the last times I was ever at the station that I remember it so fondly; I took a job the next week for a CBS affiliate in a different state. Maybe it was the lazy, calm of a summer afternoon after the school year had ended, but before the summer term had begun.Maybe it was because it was before my first shift back after getting married; a wedding Joan hadn’t been able to attend because of her cancer treatments but a wedding she had still been part of because I insisted on sending the wreath from the door to the hall of my wedding all the way to her home, to cheer her up and let her know she was missed. Maybe it was all those things; all those intangibles that no recipe can possibly include on a 3×5 index card, but that nevertheless are required for a good cake. And a good meal. And any good time. Aren’t those memories, really, the reason we care so much about certain recipes? Certain foods? Not just because the food tastes good, but because it reminds us of a time that was equally sweet and satisfying. Good food is good for the soul.
So, yesterday I made a strawberry cake for Logan’s 5th birthday. Logan wasn’t even a thought that first time I had a strawberry cake in 2002, but our lives have gone through so much upheaval–just like that first time with the strawberry cake–I thought it would be fitting. Above all, we are just happy to be together and alive, just like back then.
This recipe comes from allrecipes.com
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (NOT flour to be sifted. Sift first, then measure)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, TABLESPOON. You will thank me later)
- 1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl beat the eggs until soft peaks form. You can choose to do only egg whites if you like, but keep at least one yolk.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1/4 of foam mixture at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the SIFTED flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.