To make Linda's anniversary even more special, one of the other admins, Rebekah, very cleverly found out her favorite dessert. Linda went into great detail about how when she was a little girl, she would get super excited when she would see an angel's food cake tin cooling upside down on top of a bottle. She said she knew her mom was making this cake. It's very simple, but the best desserts usually are.
I was a little nervous to make such an iconic cake from her childhood, but when she saw it waiting for her on the conference room table, she knew exactly what it was! She could hardly wait until she could get a bite. After she had a piece, she said she had to hold back the tears because it made her think of her mom, those many years ago. That's when I started to get all verklempt!
Strawberry Nostalgia Cake
Yield: Depending on large you cut the slices, you could serve 8 to 16.
1 Angel's Food Cake (here's my favorite scratch recipe, from a box mix, or store bought)
1 to 2 pints fresh strawberries (I highly recommend getting them organic and locally grown. The flavor is just so much better!)
1 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 cup of water
1 pint whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
Wash and hull the strawberries. Dice 12 to 18 smallish ones and store in the refrigerator. Mash the remaining strawberries into a small bowl using the back of a fork, sprinkle with 1 tablespoons of sugar if desired. Give it a good mix, cover and leave them on the counter. Let them macerate at least an hour.
Make/buy an angel's food cake. Trim off any "skin" (this is what I refer to is the thin, light brown outermost layer of the cake. It should just roll off or might need some coaxing with a knife.) You should have a pretty, mostly white cake. Using a serrated bread knife, cut the cake in half vertically. Set the top aside.
Using a small paring knife or your fingers, cut or dig a tunnel around the perimeter of the cake, about 1/4 away from the sides (if you cut it too close to the sides of the cake, your filling will not only ooze out, but it will weaken the sides and the cake could fall). Discard/eat the little pieces of cake. Repeat process with top layer if you want, but don't cut too deep. Set the cake side.
In a chilled bowl (I prefer metal) using chilled beaters or whisk attachment, whip the cream on the highest speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and sugar and mix again until stiff peaks just start to form. Scrape down the bowl. Remove 1/2 cup of whipped cream, cover, and refrigerate. On medium speed, add a tablespoon of the mashed strawberries and mix until cream turns pink. Add another tablespoon, mix again and repeat 2 more times. You probably won't use all the strawberries making the strawberry whipped cream. The goal is to get the whipped cream pink and strawberryish, without deflating the cream.
Put the bottom of the cake on a cake board or serving platter. Fill the tunnel with strawberry whipped cream. Just fill it enough that there is a layer of cream, but you should still be able to see the cake peaking through. Fill the tunnel again, but this time with the diced strawberries (if you have extra slices that didn't fit, just toss them into the mashed strawberries and save it for when serve the cake). The top of the strawberries should be even with the top of the cake, or just slightly below. Top with more strawberry whipped cream. Put the top of the cake back on top.
Frost the cake with the whipped cream, being sure not to forget the center of the cake and refrigerate immediately. Wait at least 20 minutes or enough time for the whipped cream to set. Remove the cake from the fridge again and frost just the top of the cake with the reserved plain white whipped cream. Store in the fridge overnight and try to keep it there until you're ready to serve. Serve with any left over strawberries.
Would I Make This Again: Yes! It was so pretty, light, and summery. The cake didn't get too soggy and had a not-too-sweet, nostalgic quality to it. I would love to make this for a dessert to serve to guests after a BBQ or in the dead of winter (using frozen berries) when I'm really longing for summer. I'd also like to try this with other fruit, or a combination of a few. 4 out of 5 stars.