Months deep into a severe baking drought, with an unused cake stand glaring me down, all I wanted was to make a beautiful cake. With no occasion in the foreseeable future, I decided my own birthday was occasion enough (duh) and set to work making an ombre pink lady cake entirely for myself (a step up from “a lovely cheese pizza, just for me!”) Oh hey fellow Home Alone aficionados.
Searching for recipes and ombre inspiration, I decided if I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right (from scratch). This thing was going to taste good, look good, and make up for months of only opening our baking pantry to grab a handful of chocolate chips headed straight for the mouth.
The whole process was actually simpler than I had expected, even after my kitchen hiatus. While you do need three same-sized cake pans and red food dye, it’s really nothing crazy.
I also knew I wanted some celebratory bunting flags on top, so for the topper I cut out triangles from paint chips and strung them with twine (and tape) onto kebab skewers.
En fin- my pride and joy!
Pink Lady Ombre Layer Cake (adapted from smittenkitchen)
4 ½ cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups pureed fresh or frozen strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
Red food dye
cream cheese frosting:
8 (8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed up to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and 2-3 drops of red food dye, to blend. Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition.
- Pour 1/3 of the batter into the first pan. Next, add 2-3 additional drops of red food dye to the remaining batter in the mixing bowl, stir. The batter should be slightly darker than the first pan. Once well incorporated pour half of that remaining batter into the second pan. Finally, add 2-3 more drops in the last of the batter and once the color has blended in darker, pour into the third pan. You should now have three pans with pink batter, each pan darker than the previous.
- Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. (TIP: do NOT invert cakes until they have substantially cooled, even if it takes longer than 20 minutes). Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.
- In the meantime, in a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradua;;y stir in the confectioners sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.
FROST & ASSEMBLE:
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter. (Tucking scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake will protect the board or plate from any mess created while frosting the cake). Spread about 2/3 cup frosting over the layer, spreading to the edge. Repeat with the second layer,. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Decorate to your heart’s content (you could also decorate the cake top with thinly-sliced strawberries). Remove wax strips and feel good about yourself.