What’s the most important part of a birthday cake? The filling? The tender layers of moist, delicious cake? The number of blazing candles on the cake?
That’s a trick question. Clearly, the most important feature is the frosting. Especially when you’re celebrating your fourth birthday. Before I made Elliana’s birthday cake, I asked what kind of cake she wanted. The response? “One with frosting.”
I can do that.
I opted to go with a funfetti cake, filled with vanilla custard and frosted with strawberry buttercream. (If you’re curious, I used Annie’s funfetti recipe, which leaves you with six homeless egg yolks. Perfect for making a double batch of this custard from Smitten Kitchen.) I read through several berry buttercreams (strawberry, raspberry, etc.) and discovered that people added anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pureed fruit to a basic buttercream. So I turned to the simple buttercream recipe I like the best, and went from there! The results were exactly what I’d hoped for – a sweet, pink frosting perfect for a little girl. I did use a little bit of icing color to deepen the pink, but not too much.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
2 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup pureed strawberries*
1 tablespoon heavy cream, give or take
pink icing color, if desired
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the salt and powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (and way too easy to eat straight from the bowl).
Pour in the pureed strawberries and vanilla, and mix until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add cream to reach desired consistency. Tint with icing color as desired.
*The week before I made Elliana’s cake, I did a test run of this strawberry cake, in cupcake form. While we liked it, mine didn’t turn out “pink” enough to be considered for the birthday girl’s cake. (I have no idea why this is.) However, the recipe did yield a nice amount of leftover strawberry puree, which is what I used for this frosting. I thought it had a great flavor and would recommend using that puree/technique. Feel free to simply puree some frozen strawberries with a little sugar, and then strain them to remove most of the seeds, if you’re not feeling the whole “cooked puree” method that Elly describes.