Monday, June 10, 2013

Let Them Eat Icing

My mom always baked our birthday and special event cakes from scratch. She has one cake she makes called Starlight that is so good it gets eaten in one day. She baked her own cakes probably to save money, as it was cheaper than buying one from the bakery, but my mom is a fabulous baker, and we never complained.

I learned to bake cakes from scratch when I was in elementary school, and I still prefer them because a) they bring back memories of Mom's wonderful cakes and b) while boxed cake mixes are convenient, after a lifetime of having homemade they taste funny to me. I've also been gradually working up to creating my own recipes, although I still rely heavily on cookbooks for the basics and build on those.

Now we come to the reason why I created my tea cake. I have a daughter who is the only child I know in existence who hates icing. Doesn't matter what kind or flavor, she won't eat it (and whenever I make cupcakes I always leave a half-dozen plain just for her.) We mainly opted out for ice cream cakes for her birthdays or special events, but I always wanted to come up with a cake icing she would like. When I had to give up sugar last year this added an extra incentive because now I can't eat icing anymore.

I got the general idea for this cake from a tea room excursion, during which we tried their variation on a Queen Victoria sponge cake: a two-layer angel-food type cake spread with some sort of fruit preserves (I think raspberry) in the center and sparingly topped with a bit of sprinkled powdered sugar. My daughter loved it, and I thought this might be an answer to our mutual dilemma.

I still wanted icing, however, because to me a cake looks naked without it. Then I thought of a dessert my daughter loves almost as much as plain cake: fresh strawberries and real whipped cream. I could ice the cake with whipped cream and serve it with fresh strawberries . . . and that's how I came up with this recipe, which everyone including Miss No-Icing loved.

Lynn's Strawberry and Cream Tea Cake

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup milk
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

Heat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour two round 8" or 9-1/2" cake pans. Beat all the ingredients in a large mixing bown on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly, for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed, scraping the sides frequently, for 3 minutes. Divide batter equally between both pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

Filling Ingredients:

3-1/2 oz. (about a third of a 10 oz. jar) Smuckers Seedless Strawberry Simply Spreadable Fruit (or your favorite strawberry jam or preserves)

Invert one of the cooled cakes on a plate or cake stand. Cover the top of cake with filling. Place second cake on top.

Icing Ingredients:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
fresh, thinly-sliced strawberries

Chill your mixing bowl in your freezer for about 5 minutes. Combine cream and powdered sugar in bowl and whip together at high speed until cream is at a spreadable texture (about 3-5 minutes.) Ice cake with whipped cream. Garnish with sliced strawberries (I serve mine in a separate bowl so everyone can add as much as they want.)

For some fun variations, try this recipe with some different fruits and preserves -- peaches, apricots, plums, blueberries or any fruit that goes with cream should work.


  1. Fresh whipped cream is heavenly. There's very few foods that can't be improved by following the recipe correctly at home (except mac and cheese. You can boost the flavor, but plain M&C is the same out of the box as on the stove).

    1. My daughter loves mac and cheese with sour cream and bacon, Bill -- something she can only get at a restaurant called Hoolihan's here, so I'm going to try to experiment and see if dupe it. I had a taste the last time we had lunch there and while it's not really my sort of dish, the different flavors made it much more interesting.

  2. I learned to make the Victoria sponge shortly after moving to Scotland--it was my husband's favorite.

    Made from scratch, at first I thought it would be bland, boring. What kind of cake didn't have frosting? But with the yummy jam filling and a little dusting of sugar on top, it was a moist, delicious cake, one I've made so many times now, I could do it in my sleep.

    1. That sounds delicious, Terlee -- I wonder if angel food cake would be improved in the same manner (not one of my favorites, but my guy loves it.)

  3. Oh, yum! I can't eat the cake - I can't have gluten - but the icing sounds WONDERFUL!

    1. Deb, there's a gluten-free vanilla cake recipe here that might work as a substitute:

  4. I've never had Victoria Sponge Cake but I think I'm going to have to make it now.

    I too prefer cakes from scratch. There's something in a box cake that leaves a bit of an aftertaste to me.

    My MIL makes the most fabulous Chocolate Chiffon with Buttercream Icing cake...I need her to show me how she makes it. It's a recipe in the family for a couple generations now and doesn't get passed down easily, but I'm trying! :)

    1. I tried a recipe for a hazelnut chiffon cake with mocha-flavored whipped cream frosting that turned out pretty fabulous, but it's so hard to find hazelnuts after the winter holidays I have to come up with a reasonable replacement. Maybe almonds . . .

  5. I love cakes and have always made from scratch, its the best way. My absolute favourite was my mum's sticky ginger cake, still warm from the oven and spread with a little butter - oh god I'm salivating! I've tried over and over but I can't make it like she did and since she passed away some years ago I can't ask her secret. I love Victoria sponge cakes and because my son was like your daughter, we went through endless "just jam" cakes through his childhood. I shall try your recipe at the weekend for me as I also adore strawberries & cream .. I mean who doesn't?

    1. I know what you mean, Fran. My grandmother made butterscotch pudding that was heavenly, but she never wrote down the recipe or taught anyone to make it, so when she passed the dessert went with her. I've begun writing down recipes for my daughter for that very same reason.