Friday, March 18, 2011

VLOG: a very berry quite contrary strawberry cake

This is a strawberry cake with strawberry gelatin and strawberry puree covered in a strawberry cream cheese frosting containing real strawberries.  I don't think I missed any opportunity to add more strawberry to this cake.  If this cake sounds unappealing to you, then let me explain first!  When I was given this recipe a couple of weeks ago, I was skeptical because the ingredients listed white cake mix and packaged gelatin.  I only do from scratch baking, but I was told that this cake was utterly magnificent because it's from the Cake Mix Doctor herself.  I had googled this recipe and found the exact same one published on with several mixed reviews.  The only way for me to determine what this cake actually tasted like required for me to do one thing, which was to prepare the cake as directed and analyze it myself.  Granted, I had to put aside my biases against cake mixes and artificial flavorings.

So here it is - the cake needs improvement.  Don't get me wrong, it's good.  However the texture is off. When baked as written, the cake comes out incredibly greasy and very, very moist as if it's too moist for its own good.  It's a pretty dense cake, and the vivid pink color saturated throughout is a tad bit disturbing.  The raw batter smelled wrong (i.e. artificial from the cake mix and gelatin), but the baked cake smelled acceptable.  The frosting failed to hold on its own because it was way too watery.  [See my vlog on simple buttercreams to improve this strawberry frosting recipe!]  I would edit and modify this recipe so that it's more suitable to my preferences.  My vlog details the effects of utilizing gelatin in a cake and what it does to the texture and structure of the cake.  I also included notes on how I would alter the recipe to achieve a fluffy, light, and moist cake.  I didn't extract any ingredient completely from the original recipe in order to maintain the integrity of the cake; my point is not give you an entirely different one.  I only adjusted the amounts of some ingredients, and suggested a different technique toward incorporating them into the batter.  These improvements were made based on my understanding of each ingredient's principle role in the cake.  I myself will be taking this to heart to re-create this recipe again someday, and I'll post a "revisited" blog entry to update you.   

Strawberry Cake (as prepared in the vlog - no suggested modifications included)
Recipe adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor (I made some omissions & substitutions from original recipe)
Ingredients for 30 cupcakes
1 package (18.25 oz) plain white cake mix
1 package (3 oz) strawberry gelatin
1 cup mashed (frozen & thawed) strawberries with juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sweetened grated coconut

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (as prepared in the vlog - no suggested modifications included)
Recipe adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor (I made some omissions & substitutions from original recipe)
Ingredients for frosting 30 cupcakes
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 cup fresh ripe strawberries, rinsed, capped, and chopped
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/4 cup pecan halves

1) Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
2) Place the cake mix, strawberry gelatin, mashed strawberries and juice, oil, milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed.  The strawberries should be well blended into the batter.  Fold in the coconut.  Divide the batter into the cups and place them in the oven.
3) Bake the cakes until they are light brown, approximately 15-18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.   Remove from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack right side up. 
4) Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Stop the machine and add the sugar and strawberries. Blend the frosting on low until the sugar has been incorporated.  Then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.  Fold in the coconut.  Apply frosting to cupcakes and top each with a pecan half.


  1. The last time I used box mix (vanilla chai cupcakes), Yim thought it was good. He'll probably like this recipe. Figures.

  2. Your video is so cool and impressive, especially to someone like me who is technologically challenged. Well done and your cake looked delicious as well.

  3. @Cece: maybe I should make it for him the next time he comes to visit!!

    @Lisa: Thank you so much! If you check out some of my earlier vlogs, I incorporate more details into the science behind it. I'm working on some new stuff and will be presenting it in a similar format and I hope you'll stop by the blog again!

  4. Hmm... I like to think of myself as open-minded but I'm not sure this strawberry cake and I are meant to be friends. I guess I just think gelatin in cakes sounds weird although I'm sure they must use it in commercial bakeries as a stabilizer.

    It's interesting exploring how the gelatin ingredient works chemically. What if you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this cake though? Can you substitute pectin or something?

  5. Cool! I really like this concept--you explaining what you'd do differently. Can't wait to see if it actually improves the cake!


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