This is a simple and scrumptious cake made from a boxed cake mix, fresh strawberries, pale pink strawberry whipped cream icing, and a nice soaking of liqueur. It's perfect for Valentine's Day, or just because, and it's a light refreshing cake to serve in the summertime (when strawberries are in peak season).
Cake mixes really do have a place in our recipe lexicon. Maybe they can't replace the taste of a scratch cake, but they have their own kind of deliciousness. If you want to whip something up quickly and with the assured security that it will turn out every time, then cake mix is the way to go.
Another benefit of cake mixes is that, once baked, the cakes stay moister longer (yes, because preservatives but still).
For this recipe I used Duncan Hines Signature Perfectly Moist Strawberry Supreme Cake Mix. I have no affiliate with this brand. I just like it best and find it the most moist. Baking anything for anyone, even if it's semi-homemade, is special. We are going to make this cake extra special by doctoring it up a bit.
I doctored-up this cake by soaking the cake with an Italian anise-flavored liqueur, filling the cake with fresh, macerated strawberries, and whipping heavy cream together with strawberry jam and strawberry juice to make the icing. The icing tastes light and refreshing, not too sweet, and becomes the palest shade of pink. So pretty.
I find it easier to ice cakes with whipped cream than other types of icing, and with the help of an off-set spatula and a cake turntable, you'll get this cake pretty smooth. I also keep a tall glass of hot water nearby to dip my spatula from time to time. This helps to smooth the cake even more.
Macerating the strawberries is no big deal. Just sprinkle sugar over the strawberries and let them sit for thirty minutes. This allows the strawberries to soften and sweeten and to release their juices. It sound a little naughty but perfect for making a love cake.
If you're not a fan of anise-flavored liqueur then you can use a strawberry liqueur instead. You can forgo the alcohol altogether, but I think liqueur compliments the cake well.
Maybe you're making this for children. In that case, you might want to omit the alcohol. I added the alcohol and served this cake to my underage son. This was his reaction:
I lopped off the top half, unboozy part of the cake. He happily ate it and asked for more top-half, unboozy slices.
Yes, non-alcoholic cakes are probably best for kiddos. It's a strong taste for them and maybe a little illegal.
Another element that makes this cake extra special is its whipped cream icing. I just whipped up some heavy cream, three tablespoons of seedless strawberry jam, and the reserved juice from the macerated strawberries. It's just ever so sweet and becomes the palest shade of pink.
If you would like the icing to be sweeter, just add an extra tablespoon of jam. If you would like the icing to be a darker shade of pink, you can always add a few drops of food coloring. No matter how sweet or pink, because the icing is made of whipped cream, you'll want to store this cake in the refrigerator.
This cake is perfect to make for your valentine, but I think it's a lovely cake to receive all year round. Imagine dropping this cake off on someone's doorstep. The lucky recipient might be feeling ill or feeling down. Wouldn't this be a great pick-me-up for someone? A sweet way to say, "I'm thinking of you." I have friends who do this for me, and it always lifts my spirits and makes me feel special.
Lastly, when strawberries are in peak season, and with its light and refreshing flavors, this would make the most beautiful summertime cake.
The moral of the story? It doesn't take much time or effort to make someone feel special, and making something for someone is truly a gift from the heart.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Boozy Berry Love Cake
- 2, 8-inch cake pans
- 3-inch heart cookie cutter
- cooking spray
- 1 box strawberry cake mix follow directions on the box
- 1 pint strawberries hulled and diced
- 3 TBSP sugar
- 2½ cups (20 ounces) heavy whipping cream
- 3-4 TBSP seedless strawberry jam
- ¼ cup Sambuca liqueur
- Preheat the oven to the temperature given on the back of the cake mix box.
- Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying them liberally with cooking spray.
- Make the batter following the instructions on the the back of of the strawberry cake mix box. Pour the batter into the cake pans, dividing the batter equally and bake as instructed.
- While the cakes are baking, hull the strawberries and dice them into ¼-inch pieces.
- Using a shallow dish, place the stawberries in a single layer and sprinkly with sugar. Allow the strawberries to macerate for about 30 minutes. Then, strain the strawberries and reserving the juice.
- Once the cakes are baked and cooled, flip them out of their pans. Slice a thin layer off the top of one cake to level and reveal it's spongy center. This will become the bottom layer.
- Using a pastry brush, soak the layer with Sambuca.
- Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk cream, strawberry jam, and reserved strawberry juice and whisk until stiff peaks form. (Make sure that the whipped cream is stiff enough to hold its shape.)
- Place the Sambuca-soaked bottom layer of cake on a cake turntable or cake plate.
- Using an off-set spatula or a rubber spatula,spread an even layer of icing (about ½-inch thick) on top.
- Reserve ¼ cup of diced strawberries and set aside. (We will use this for decorating the top of the cake.) Sprinkle remaining diced strawberries on top of icing layer keeping the strawberries about ¼-inch away from the cake's edge.
- Spread another ½-inch layer of icing on top of the strawberries and then place the other cake on top.
- Dollop the remaining whipped cream on top of the cake and ice smooth.
- Place a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter in the center of the cake and add reserved strawberries.
- Chill the cake for 3-4 hours. Remove the cookie cutter and serve.