Strawberry cream puff cake
Every time I plan to go strawberry picking, we get a huge storm the night before that keeps me from going. I’m not a fan of the idea of wading through the berry patch, no matter how much I want strawberries. Luckily, there’s a little farm stand down the road, so I can keep my feet dry and eat all the berries I want. I’ll admit, it isn’t quite the same, but it will do in a pinch.
I’d seen this strawberry cream puff cake at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe ages ago and have been waiting for Spring to try it. My mom makes a cream puff cake using this same base, but the idea of adding whipped cream and a pile of strawberries to it was impossible to resist. Add the perk that it’s such an easy recipe and I was headed to the farm stand first thing this morning.
Turned out, though, that I ran into a little snag during what should have been a super quick and simple recipe. Just between you and me? I found out, quite accidentally, that half and half does not whip. I grabbed the wrong carton from the fridge and didn’t realize it for 20 minutes! I could not figure out why on earth my cream wasn’t whipping and ended up switching mixers and attachments and everything! Finally, it dawned on me that I must have grabbed the wrong carton, and sure enough, I had. There was a little grumbling and maybe a bad word or two, and a lot of laughing on Jim’s part, but I started over and we finally got to enjoy dessert. And enjoy it we did. This is delicious! Everything a strawberry dessert should be and then some. It was even worth the extra time it took me to muddle through the recipe in the first place. Next time, I’ll read the labels and it should be a piece of cake. Cream puff cake, that is.
Recipe: Strawberry Cream Puff Cake
(from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
Cream Puff Base:
5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup flour
Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
“For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (or in a pinch, you could use a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick 10-12 times. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown but not overbaked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). Cool completely.
For the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you want to ensure there are no lumps, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese) and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.
Top with fresh sliced strawberries (I mixed 2 cups of strawberries with 1 teaspoon sugar and let them hang out in the fridge while I was prepping the cake) or you can use a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries that have been thawed. Mix the thawed strawberries and juice with 1-2 teaspoons sugar and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened. Cool completely and use as topping for the cake.”