Friday, August 17, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Ree's Strawberry Shortcake Cake is a hands-down must, BUT make sure there is plenty of company coming or your experience may turn into one of those potato chip commercials where you just can't stop eating.  I've found this to be my case whenever I make cream cheese icing from scratch, and this recipe is no different.  So keep those old plastic containers (i.e.-cool whip, butter, etc.) handy because your waistline will need you to send the leftovers home with your guests. 
Step One:  Golden Yellow Butter Cake Mix
Cutting corners with Cake Mix from Pillsbury

 Preheat your oven to 350 deg F (or as directed by the cake mix box).  Follow the directions on the cake mix box for baking two 9 inch round cakes.  I used half the batter for the first layer and the remaining half for the second layer.  Be sure to use enough non-stick spray on the cake pan so you'll retrieve these layers whole and not in broken pieces.   Ree uses a from-scratch cake batter here, but cake mix boxes are worth their $0.99 on clearance to me...

 Step Two:  Ice Cake Layer #1
Mouth-watering begins at this step...
Now, the cream cheese icing on the other hand- that needs to be made from scratch.  Luckily, my friend Caroline was helping me with the prep work so I wasn't as tempted to dive into the icing bowl and lap it up.  It still crossed my mind though.  In a glass bowl, I microwaved one 8 oz. package of cream cheese and 1/2 stick of unsalted butter to softness.  I placed this in a larger bowl with 1.5 lbs powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix this to smoothness with a beater.  Spread half of this delicious mixture onto the first layer of cake.

 Step Three: Ice Cake Layer #2
The temptation mounts...

Spread the remaining half of the icing on the top layer, and completely cover the cake. Finally, it is okay to lap the icing reminants in the prep bowl... but you may to share!    

 Step Four:  Cut and Serve
Dinner table etiquette is hard to follow when this is sitting in front of you.

The fresh strawberries I had picked up for this occassion didn't look so good by the time Thursday rolled around (because sadly, they are now out of season in Georgia) so I pulled out a quart of frozen strawberries that I had put up in June and thawed them.  I placed a bowl of the strawberries and a quart of ice cream on the table with the cake so that guests would have options. 

Step Five:  Enjoy...
The beginnings of a Nobel Peace Prize...
I hope you have a sweet tooth because this dessert plate will rock your palate!  Many combinations of this final dish are possible with equal success:  alternate any fruit, skip the ice cream or just combine icing and fruit... they'll all have you begging for more. 

The following nutritional information will not be for the faint of heart...  Just remember to workout that day or cut smaller slices...

893 cal/ 138 g carbs/ 36 g fat/ 7 g protein  per 1/8 of the cake

1153 cal/ 170 g carbs/ 50 g fat/ 11 g protein per 1/8 of the cake + 1 cup ice cream

  1. I baked the cake layers on a Tuesday night after work and refrigerated them in tupperware until Thursday night when company was coming.  (I had a concert on Wednesday night and didn't want to stretch myself too thin on Thursday night soooo two days in advance it was). 
  2. Chilling the cake helps with spreading the cream cheese evenly.
  3. I tried reducing the amount of powdered sugar BUT the icing was too runny that way.  I did, however, reduce the original 2 sticks of butter to 1/2 a stick.  (So your arteries will thank me even if your pancreas won't). 
  4. The original recipe called for adding the strawberries to each layer of cake and then topping with icing.  Caroline had a brilliant idea to add the icing first since the moist berries might make the cake soggy (especially if you were going to store leftovers).  Also, there are some guests who will prefer no strawberries because the cream cheese icing and cake alone will knock their socks off.

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