Strawberry Smash Cake

Anyone feeling like smashing things? The dirty dinner dishes? Your child’s phone? Racial injustice? I have just the cake for you. The Smash Cake.

Typically smash cakes are small cakes given to babies for the first birthday. This trend must have started sometime in the last decade because my children were unfortunate enough to have cupcakes for the first birthday. My friend’s twin boys hit the jackpot. The birthday boys each had his very own cake to smash. It was glorious! I made a three-layer version of this cake for each of them plus a regular size cake for the parents. The boys smashed and ate and then smashed and ate some more. I’m still smiling at the pictures. I can totally see why this is a thing.

Maybe you need a mini cake to celebrate or a fun baking project to tackle but I implore you to make this cake! I can can go on and on about its good qualities. Its the perfect size for two and uses a mere half cup of flour for those of us finding flour hard to stock. The cake is tender and sturdy and being butter-less, it pairs perfectly with rich cream cheese frosting. Also, the cake holds up quite well without drying out. The strawberry filling is literally pureed strawberries which I love this time of year.

Overhead view of vanilla cake for two with a slice on a plate.

A sponge cake gets its structure from whipped eggs and sugar. A dash of flour, baking soda and salt is all that is needed to finish. Though easy to make, a sponge cake differs from most American-style butter cakes. Butter cakes start with creaming sugar with butter, adding eggs and then altering the addition of dry ingredients and milk. The finished butter cake is heftier and denser than the light and springy sponge cake.

There are many different ways to make a sponge cake. Some recipes add melted butter to the batter, some warm the eggs and sugar before whipping, others separate the eggs. I love this one because of its pure simplicity.

Slice of layered strawberry mini cake on a plate.

If you are new to sponge cakes (or cake baking in general), here are a few tips to ensure success. Knowing when the eggs are whipped sufficiently and when the cake is completely cooked are essential.

  • Pull eggs, butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator an hour before starting so that they have a chance to warm to room temperature.
  • Clean mixer bowl and whisk with soap and water and dry thoroughly before starting. This will help the eggs whip properly.
  • Check that the batter is fully whipped by letting it drip from the whisk into the bowl. If the drips don’t immediately incorporate into the rest of the batter, then you know its ready to add the flour.
  • When baking, test for doneness by gently pressing on the top of the cake. Your finger should not leave an impression when done. The cake will feel slightly “springy”.

I hope this mini layer cake brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

Mini Strawberry Vanilla Smash Cake

Makes one 4- layer (or two 2- layer) 5 inch cakes

Adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (half if using table salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
  • Blue food coloring

Strawberry Filling:

  • 1/2 pound strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, if desired

Cake Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 for convection). Spray two 5×3 round pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment.

Tracing pans on parchment.

Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment and whisk on medium to combine the eggs for one minute. Turn the mixer to high and add in the sugar and vanilla extract. Continue for a minute and then stop and scrape the bowl with a flexible spatula. Return mixer to high and continue for 8 minutes. The mixture will be very thick and look like stiff whipped cream. Stop the mixer and test to see if the batter is ready. Drip batter off the whisk and in the mixer bowl, look to see if the impression is visible on top of the batter for a couple of seconds or if it’s completely absorbed. If completely absorbed then mix for another minute and test again.

Take bowl off mixer and sift 1/3 flour mixture over whipped eggs. The salt may not fit through the mesh so just pour on top. Use a flexible spatula and gently stir in flour. I like to fold from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Once combined, sift another 1/3 flour over bowl and fold in again. Finish off with the rest of the flour and do a final fold to make sure all the flour is combined. I found this to take longer than I thought so be patient. It may take as much as 15 folds each time. The flour tends to hide so make sure to work your way around the bowl.

Scrape into pans and set in middle of oven. Shut door and don’t open again until the cakes are golden brown, about 20 minutes, check cakes. They are done once they gently spring back when pressed. Could take as long as 25 minutes. Remove pans from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a small spatula down and around the sides of the pan to release cake. Turn out cake onto cooling rack and let cool completely, about an hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Add all ingredients to the stand mixer and mix on medium for about 5 minutes or until thick, fluffy and easily spreadable. Scoop 1 tablespoon of frosting into a small bowl. In a separate bowl whisk matcha powder and one teaspoon of water until smooth. Whisk matcha into reserved frosting . Add a few drops of blue food coloring to achieve the desired green.

Strawberry Filling:

Look through strawberries and pick out the prettiest one and set aside. Hull the rest of the strawberries and cut large ones in half. Process in a food processor until the consistency of thick applesauce. Mix in a tablespoon of sugar to taste.

Cake Assembly:

Once the cakes are completely cool, use a bread knife to cut each cake into equal rounds. On a small plate or cake board, set one cake layer with the cut side up. Use a slotted spoon to spoon strawberry mixture to the edges. Take a second layer and spread cream cheese frosting on cut side. Lay cream cheese side down on top of strawberry filling. Continue by adding strawberry filling to the top of the second round and cream cheese to the bottom of a third round. Add strawberry filling to the cut side of the third round and cream cheese to the cut side of the fourth round. The top of the cake should be the bottom of the fourth round.

Get on eye level with the cake and adjust until straight and center it on the plate. Using an offset spatula, scoop frosting on the top and spread to the edges. Scrape off spatula to remove crumbs and continue adding frosting to the sides, scraping off crumbs as you go until the whole cake is coated to desired thickness.

Use a spoon to make a swoop of matcha frosting in the center of the cake. Set prettiest strawberry on top in the center of the matcha frosting.

Serve or cover loosely in saran wrap and refrigerate. Let cake come to room temperature before serving for best flavor and texture. Refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Birthday Boy + Cake

My youngest son turned 5 this week. My heart is so full of pride, joy, and love that I can hardly think straight. I adore his little snuggles and floppy hair. I love how he holds my hand walking down the street and his little bunny snuggles at night. He’s my little buddy and I already miss him when he is in kindergarten. Ok. Stop. No more talk of kindergarten!

IMG_1435Let’s talk about cake instead. Birthdays to me are such an important celebration.

IMG_0088

For Kai’s birthday we wanted the day to reflect all things Kai. For breakfast I made his favorite waffles (topped with butter and a side of strawberries) and for dinner it was his favorite mac and cheese. But for me, it’s all about the cake.  Kai wanted a white cake with chocolate frosting decorated with Angry Birds. I went to Cook’s Illustrated and made the Classic White Layer Cake with Raspberry-Almond Filling. I substituted the vanilla buttercream frosting for chocolate and left out the almonds in the filling. The cake was very well balanced and I loved the almond/raspberry/chocolate flavors together. Next time around I would have gone a little thicker on frosting the cake and not left any in the bowl for later.

Cook’s Illustrated Classic White Layer Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2  1/4 cup cake flour, store bought or home made
  • 1 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened. I like to put mine out the night before so that I can start baking whenever I decide I’m ready

Instructions for Cake:

  1. Grease 2 9 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans. Whisk milk, egg whites, almond extract, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea sized pieces remain, about 1 minute.
  2. Add half of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Decrease speed to low and add the rest of the milk and beat until incorporated.
  3. Divide batter between the 2 pans and and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 23 minutes. After slightly cooling in the pans, remove the cakes from the pans and discard parchment and let cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. Once cool, wrap in saran wrap a couple times and then in foil and pop in the freezer. A frozen cake is much easier to assemble and tastes just as amazing! I made the cake the week before the birthday party and then the night before the party, I assembled and decorated the cake.

Filling

  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • Chocolate Buttercream. I used this recipe and was able to frost 12 cupcakes, plus this cake, so feel free to make less if desired.

Instructions for Chocolate Buttercream

I use this recipe from Addapinch.com and have always found it perfect. Make sure to sift the powdered sugar first and then measure 5 cups from what was sifted.

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk to remove any lumps. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, start out on low and cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup followed by about a tablespoon of milk. Remember to mix on low at first until combined. Then turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  3. Add vanilla extract and combine well.
  4. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to loose, add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the preferred consistency.

Cake Assembly:

This is my favorite part. I always end up eating too many cake scraps but who can blame me! Remove the cake layers from the freezer and put one layer on a cake stand (or set a plate on a large overturned bowl if you can’t find your cake stand!!). Spread raspberry jam on the first layer and then top with chocolate buttercream. Make sure to spread the filling all the way to the edge of the cake. Place second layer on top of the filling. Now take a serrated knife and even out the top and sides (eat scraps!). Now spread buttercream on top and sides and decorate as desired. Slice and enjoy!

xoxo,

Rachel