Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fresh Berry Cake for Mother's Day--Bake or Not

Looks like Mother's Day!


I hope you're looking for a cake to make for your Mom for Mother's Day.  If you are, you're sooo wonderful.  What mom wouldn't love someone who baked a great-looking and yummy cake like this?   I made it to take to a friend's for Easter and took it unassembled as I wanted it as fresh as it could be. 

Just looking at this cake will tell you that it's not difficult to make and it's NOT.  A quick glance at the recipe, however, might put you off.  Don't let it.  There may be a little reading involved, but the cooking and baking are fairly simple and don't take long.  In fact, though it's two layers, you only bake one cake.  After it's cool, you cut it in half.

 
But listen, if you're not a baker, this is just the cake for you... because you can get away without baking a cake at all!  Just buy a Sara Lee pound cake and cut it into layers--maybe three?--and do a loaf-shaped cake on a pretty rectangular tray.  Follow the rest of the directions for the berries and filling and there you are!   You could also bake a box cake into cupcakes, slice them, put half in a pretty coffee cup and decorate from there.  Whatever you do, this is a beautiful, tasty cake for mom or anyone.
If you don't have a special cake plate, don't worry about it.  Whoever eats this will be happy no matter what.  Next time you run in Good Will or see a funky antique shop, keep an eye our for great serving pieces.  No need to spend a fortune at the department stores. 

Another idea comes from my mother-in-law, who, when I was  a young wife, often made a similar cake using a homemade or store bought angel food cake.  To cut calories, she used Cool Whip, but I can't go that far.   If I'm eating cake I want to eat cake.  Let them eat cake!  But if you really must cut the whipped cream for health or allergy reasons, try the Cool Whip version.
courtesy Sara Lee Desserts

Easy Berry Butter Cake (Aida Mollenkamp--courtesy Food Network)

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: | Active Time: | Makes:8 to 10 servings

  • For the cake:*

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
*Or use a purchased cake like Sara Lee Pound Cake


  • For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To assemble:

  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed berries*, washed (if you’re using *strawberries, they’ll also need to be hulled and quartered)  You might not need quite this many berries; mine didn't fit on the cake.
INSTRUCTIONS
For the cake:
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and flour, tap out the excess flour, and set the pan aside. Combine measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.
  2. Place measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium high until white in color and the texture of wet sand, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated, then add milk and continue mixing until smooth. Add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated, about 2 minutes more.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn out onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.
For the filling:
  1. Place mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream, sugar, and almond extract, increase speed to medium high, and whip until ingredients are combined and firm peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble: *
  1. Slice cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Divide filling evenly between the cut side and the top of the cake. Divide berries evenly over the filling. Stack cakes on top of each other and serve.
If using a purchased cake like frozen Sara Lee pound cake, you might want to slice it (into thirds, perhaps) while it's still partially frozen.

Note:  I'll share with you that whenever I've made a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp, it's been incredible.  I don't see her on Food Network anymore; is she still on?  But she does have a lot of recipes.  One that immediately comes to mind is her lasagna.  Have mercy.  I could double in size eating that stuff.


Need a great idea for Mother's Day? 
      Send Mom an ecard and give to Share our Strength:  No Kid Hungry here.

Sing a new song and bake/make an easy cake,
Alyce

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