Strawberry lemonade cake | trial run

My baby is turning one at the end of the month (SAY IT AIN’T SO!) and my sister-in-law and I are planning a pink lemonade themed party. We are having a ball! She is awesome with decorations and the pretty visual stuff. I am much better with the food. I would like to make a strawberry lemonade ombre cake for the party, so of course I turned to Pinterest.

One of the prettiest cakes I found was this one. It’s important to me to make a cake totally from scratch because 1) bragging rights, duh and 2) my grandmother-in-law is very allergic to Yellow 6, which is found in, like, every boxed mix out there.

I decided to give this cake a trial run, and I’m really glad I did. I did two layers, one with the maximum amount of strawberry puree for coloring, and one with a 2:1 ratio of milk:strawberries for a lighter color. I added lemon zest and lemon essential oil to the whipped white chocolate ganache frosting, and here’s the results.

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I am not even going to pretend that I’m a neat cook. Or that I have the multi-tasking ability to bake and photograph. Or, heck, that I can take really awesome food photographs. I’m practicing. I’m not great. Anyway, here’s the first layer.

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My three year old was “helping.” She made a HUGE mess on the counter; this was the post-clean-up version!

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Here’s the final product. This is what made me so glad I did a trial run. The whipped ganache deflated when I put it on the cake and, like, melted all over the cake. I’m not sure what went wrong. Maybe it wasn’t cool enough when I started whipping. Maybe I didn’t whip it long enough. Maybe adding the lemon zest and oil changed the chemistry of the frosting such that it couldn’t hold the air well enough. At any rate, although the cake is quite tasty, I am not happy with its visual presentation. I am also not impressed with how the strawberry puree colored the cake; you can’t really tell a huge color difference between the two layers and I would like something a little more drastic.

My plan now is to find a highly-rated two-layer white cake recipe and make it, divide it in thirds, dye each with varying saturation along the red spectrum, and then fill between the layers with strawberry jam and lemon curd. Not together, mind you; one layer of jam and one of curd. Then I’ll frost it with a lemon buttercream and decorate it with strawberry butterflies.

Until then, we will eat cake!

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