I thought that in Year Seven you didn’t have to bring in birthday baked goods for your daughter when she turned twelve. That is strictly true. What they didn’t tell me that the girls would form a pact and pair up so that each mum got to prepare birthday treats for someone else’s daughter altogether.
“I asked Janie whether she liked vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, and she likes strawberry. So can you make a strawberry cake with cream like you do for our birthdays? Tomorrow?” Hold on a minute. For a start I’m sure the teachers won’t want to mess about with a cake. I’ll do it as cupcakes. And you can’t have cream and fresh strawberries, they need to be put on when you serve it, that will be way too fiddly. How many will you need? “Um, there’s fourteen girls in my home room, so, ummm….” I start to wonder if she’s fallen into a coma. “Thirty four!” she finally says brightly, then skips off to bring havoc to someone else’s life,
I make strawberry cake by mixing strawberries into a basic butter cake. First, you need some strawberries. Two punnets. Being a little short on time I got these from the local IGA and they really weren’t that good. Expensive, simultaneous underripe and about to go mouldy. Chop off the green bits and hurl them into a small saucepan. Cook them over medium heat, stirring with whatever implement comes to hand. You have to play it by ear a bit. This lot let out a lot of water and were very sour. I added a quarter of a cup of sugar and let them reduce down a bit, til I was in danger of starting to make jam. You want about a cup of pulp. Set that aside to cool.
Make the butter cake mix. Cream together 120 grams of butter (that’s four ounces for those of you who don’t speak SI, and yes I know it should be kilograms, but close enough) with half a cup of caster sugar. Gently beat in two eggs. Mix in two cups of plain flour and four teaspoons of baking powder. Fold in three quarters of a cup of strawberry pulp. The mix will be a disturbing flesh colour. Set out forty mini patty pan cups on a baking tray. Use a teaspoon to distribute the mix among them. Bake at 180 degrees for only about fifteen minutes, these cakes are little.
So far, so successful. If I was serving these as butterfly cakes, I’d slice a wedge out of the top, slide some strawberry jam into the cavity, slap some King Island cream on top, put the wedge back on and slather a bit of strawberry icing on and there you go. I did the jam bit.
I do happen to have a piece of machinery for applying the icing, a giant syringe. I just can’t get the hang of piping bags, I always feel the need for an extra hand and I end up dropping the bag on the cake. Surely a syringe would be easier.