Claire's 4th Birthday Party 228We just got done celebrating another birthday – this time, with butterflies!

It’s about time, because I’ve been posting way too much green lately!

Honestly, when I first started working on this cake I was pumped.  I had tested cake recipes and decided on a winner, I baked the cake, wrapped it, froze it, and then. . .I started making the frosting.  Sigh.

The butter hit the warm meringue and shot three feet directly at me, over me, and under me.  And, I was supposed to be driving to school 5 minutes later to pick up a child for a doctor’s appointment.  That’s what I get for being impatient!

I was able changed my clothes, but I didn’t have time to wash the frosting out of my hair so I went with it.

That is my life.

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The birthday girl requested strawberry cake.  I haven’t made strawberry cake since a few birthdays ago, so (as I mentioned above) I had to do some recipe testing to make sure the strawberry cake was up to par.  This cake was my fourth attempt, and I knew the cake would be good because of all the testing, but I wasn’t sure how it would be put together with the filling and frosting.

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Well, let’s just say my nephew declared it “yummy awesome” and my husband requested it for his birthday.  So I think I can call it a sweet success!

Fresh Strawberry Buttermilk Cake Adapted from Family Circle and The Pastry Queen

3 cups cake flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon Coarse Kosher salt

3 sticks butter, softened

2 1/3 cups sugar

3 large egg whites*

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons strawberry liqueur

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2/3 cup rough chopped strawberries red parts only** (1 – 1 pound package)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut parchment circles for three 9 inch cake pans.  Set aside.

Whisk the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl – set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together for two minutes on medium speed.  Add the egg whites, vanilla, and strawberry liqueur and beat for 1 minute.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Beat until almost combined and add 1/2 of the buttermilk and beat again.  Continue alternating the flour mixture and buttermilk – ending with the flour mixture.  Beat just until combined.  Add the rough chopped strawberries and beat just until incorporated.

Spray the pans with cooking spray and place the parchment in the center of each cake pan, and spray again.  Divide the batter between the pans, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Place cake pans on wire cooling racks for 10 minutes.  Then invert cakes onto plastic wrap (yes, they’ll still be hot) and carefully wrap them up and place them in the freezer until you’re ready to decorate.  I place each one on their own individual cutting board or cookie sheet.  You want to be sure that they remain flat.

For decorating the cake you’ll need:

A double batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting, tinting about 2 1/2 cups lemon yellow, the rest is white

A single recipe of Strawberry Topping (recipe below)

Butterflies made with melting chocolates from the stencil in Hello, Cupcake! – or you could create your own.  Simply draw your design on a piece of copy paper and place wax paper on top of the design and trace with melted candy coating (in a piping bag).

Strawberry Topping Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

dash of salt

1/3 cup water

4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

Place the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and whisk together to break up any lumps.  Then add the water and stir well.  Add in the strawberries.

Over medium heat, cook and stir until the sauce is thick and just starting to boil.  Stir for 1 to 2 minutes more, then take off the heat and let cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Assembling the Cake:

To assemble, place a cake layer on top of your serving plate, top with about 3/4 cup (more or less) of white frosting and spread out.  Fill a piping bag (or Ziploc) with 1 1/2 cups of white frosting, and make a circle around the perimeter of the cake layer (to make sure the strawberry topping doesn’t ooze out).  Then top with the next layer of cake, press down slightly, and repeat.  Top with the final layer of cake, and do a crumb coat of frosting – a thin layer to catch all the crumbs.

If you have remaining white frosting in the piping bag, just squeeze it back into your bowl of white frosting.

Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Then take it out and frost the chilled cake.  Make swirls or roses on the top of the cake in yellow buttercream, and top with the butterfly chocolate butterflies.  Use black giant M&M’s as needed to support the wings underneath.

*Use the leftover egg yolks to make Nilla Wafer Pudding Shots or Rustic Mini Chocolate Cream Pies

**I just wanted red flecks in my cake, not the white parts from the strawberry!

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I put the red parts of the strawberry in my mini chopper and pulsed it a few times.  This is what it should look like!

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