Two of the biggest milestones a person can experience include the day the bind themselves in holy matrimony to another human being and every time the calendar comes back to the start to commence another year of life. It can’t be a coincidence that these two events are traditionally celebrated with cake.
I love few desserts as ferociously as cake. When I got married, no detail was scrutinized more carefully than the cake. In fact, I tried more cake than wedding dresses. My mom and I tested cakes from three different vendors before finding ‘the one.’ It just meant that much.
The cake was definitely not the focal point that snowy February evening. We could have gone through the reception without serving cake and still have left married to one another. But for a couple minutes we got to enjoy some damn good cake and cutting into that buttercream cloaked white cake was one of my favorite memories from that day.
Birthdays are another occasion that call for cake. When we decided to have a party for Katie and Emily’s birthdays last Saturday, I couldn’t fathom celebrating without cake. Katie and Emily are two of the most important people in my life and a homemade cake is the best way I can imagine honoring what they mean to me.
I know not everyone loves cake. If you choose to celebrate your wedding day without it, I will smile and eat the dessert of your choosing because I know the real reason we are gathered here this day. But perhaps I have a deep emotional connection to cake. Thumbing through our family photo albums, you’ll find a page for each birthday my brother and I celebrated growing up. And on each of those pages is a photo of one of us smiling wildly behind a homemade cake my mom baked and shaped into whatever movie or cartoon character we were into that year. We had our own very own day that my mom poured over to make it special and the pinnacle of our birthday celebration was always the cake.
When Jay and I said our vows, the whole day seemed to crescendo to the apex of the celebration when we cut that top tier of our rose covered cake. It was the culmination of months of planning, counseling and never ending appointments for fittings and it was perfect.
So happy birthday, Katie and Emily. I loved celebrating with you on Katie’s porch in the shining sun while margaritas poured and we laughed deep belly laughs. I don’t know if the cake meant as much to you as it did to me, but thank you for allowing me to celebrate something so important the only way I know how.
Strawberry Lemonade Shortcake
Adapted from this Diner-Style Strawberry Shortcake from FoodNetwork.com
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 Cups Flour
- 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 3 Eggs
- 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Milk
- 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
For the Frosting
- 1 Cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 7 Oz. Jar Marshmallow Fluff
- 1/4 Cup Strawberry Jam
For the Filling and Topping
- 1/2 Cup Strawberry Jam, divided
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- 1 Pint Strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350. Trace the bottom of a 9 inch round pan on parchment paper twice and cut out the circles. Lightly grease two 9 inch round pans and place the circles of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl on high until the mixture has doubled in volume. Bring the butter and milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, being careful not to burn. Slowly pour the milk and butter into the egg and sugar mixture while mixing on low. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Once my cakes were cool, I wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and froze them overnight to make frosting them a little easier.
Get started on the frosting by mixing the butter and sugar on high for 3-4 minutes. Add the marshmallow fluff and strawberry jam and mix until combined.
Assemble the cakes by spreading a quarter cup of strawberry jam on one of the cake tops. Spread a layer of the frosting on the other and place this cake, frosting side down, on top of the cake with jam. Frost the rest of the cake with the marshmallow frosting. For the topping, combine a quarter cup of strawberry jam with the lemon juice. Drizzle the mixture on top of the cake and top with additional sliced strawberries. Serve and enjoy!