On Friday, I hosted dinner on my roof for my birthday. Everyone was teasing me because technically, my birthday was last weekend…And I had already celebrated twice over pizza and brunch. But in my opinion, you can never have too many parties. And birthdays are the perfect excuse to bring everyone you care about together and enjoy delicious food.
For the main course, I made baked shrimp scampi and a pasta salad with oriecchette, cherry tomatoes and homemade kale/basil pesto. I also made hummus from scratch for the first time–a somewhat labor intensive process if you don’t have a food processor. I used a blender (much to my roommate’s chagrin), but I managed to achieve a nice, creamy consistency after pulsing it for about 15 minutes (and using some choice words to let off some steam). My friend Carly–whose diet consists mainly of beans–said that she wanted to eat it like ice cream from a bowl.
But the real pinnacle of the meal was dessert. My favorite kind of birthday cake is strawberry, and I found a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s blog called “strawberry shortcake cake” that I decided to try. Making the cake was a process; I baked it in the oven for 50 minutes and let it cool, then I sliced it in half and added layers of crushed strawberries and homemade buttercream frosting. I left it in the refrigerator overnight, which helped all the flavors meld together. The juices from the strawberries moistened the cake, and the icing added an extra touch of sweetness.
My friend Melissa also surprised me with a giant homemade birthday cake. She wrote “Happy Birthday” on chocolate covered strawberries. She topped it all off with whipped cream, the perfect complement to chocolate covered berries and rich dark chocolate.
I was happy I could bring everyone together for good food and conversation, and I’ll never forget my two strawberry birthday cakes–or multiple birthday celebrations.
Strawberry Shortcake Cake (from The Pioneer Woman blog)
1-1/2 cup Flour
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
1-1/2 cup Sugar
3 whole Large Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 pound Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1-1/2 pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound Strawberries
IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.
Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.
Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.
Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.
Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.
IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!