Fresh Strawberry Sheetcake

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My mom started making this cake when I was a teenager and it immediately became a favorite in our family.  Indeed, this cake is a top-pick for those of us with summer birthdays.  While strawberries are now available most of the year, this cake is a must-have during strawberry season.  What makes this cake so delicious is the flavors in the three layers, soft vanilla cake, creamy and tangy cream cheese with whipped cream filling, and then it is all topped off sliced, glazed strawberries. This mouth-watering cake is light, fresh and delicious.

 

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First, is the soft and moist vanilla cake.  It is baked on a jellyroll pan, which makes for a thinner layer, thus creating the perfect cake to cream cheese frosting to strawberry ratio.

 

 

 

 

Now for the glazed strawberries. My mom makes this cake with a store-bought, strawberry glaze, which is an easy and yummy option.  I like the taste of my homemade glaze better and I always have the ingredients on hand which makes one less trip to the grocery store.  The glaze is made from strawberry jello, sugar, cornstarch, water and a little red food coloring.  This strawberry mixture is brought to a boil for a minute and then it must cool.  I like to stir it occasionally to help the heat escape and to help it along in cooling.

 

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Now wash, hull and slice 2 pounds of fresh, ripe and sweet strawberries. The strawberry slices are then added to the cooled glaze.

 

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This layer is probably everyone’s favorite layer and for good reason.  It starts with fresh whipped cream with vanilla extract in one bowl and whipped, softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in another. Next we mix the two together, making a sweet, creamy and tangy filling that will have you licking the spoon, the bowl and your fingers.

 

 

 

 

After the cake is cooled, spread the filling in an even layer, covering the entire cake.

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that gorgeous! But it isn’t done yet; here come the strawberries and glaze. Carefully, push and spread the strawberries to the edges of the cake, covering the cream cheese filling.  Cover with wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

 

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Honestly, this is a cool, and refreshing dessert you’ve got to try this summer.  I also think adding some blueberries in a stars-and-stripes design would make it a fantastic Fourth of July dessert. ENJOY!

 

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Fresh Strawberry Sheetcake

 

Ingredients:

1 vanilla cake mix, mixed as directed

2 lbs. strawberries

2/3 c. sugar

1 c. water

4 T. strawberry gelatin

2 T. cornstarch

2 c. whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened

1 c. powdered sugar

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat (my favorite) or spray pan with cooking spray. Pour mixed cake batter into jellyroll pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, strawberry gelatin, and water.  Heat over medium high and bring to a boil, whisking constantly for one minute.  Set aside and allow to cool.

While glaze is cooling, wash, hull and slice strawberries.  When glaze is cooled mix with sliced strawberries.

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream and vanilla extract until very thick.  In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, add the powdered sugar and incorporate well.  Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipping cream and mix until combined.

To assemble the cake, spread cream cheese mixture on top of the cooled cake. Then top with glazed strawberries. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to serve.

 

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Fruit Pizza with a Twist

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Fruit pizza is a crowd-pleaser any way you slice it.  It is fresh, light, and beautiful, and the twist in my recipe is lemon.  I add just a little lemon to the frosting, which brightens the flavors of the fruit. The fresh, tart addition of lemon extract and zest is a pleasant surprise.  I served this the other night at a pool party and I had many people tell me how they loved the addition of lemon. It wakes up your taste buds and contrasts the sweetness of the fruit. This pizza has it all: soft, chewy, sugar crust, rich sweet frosting with a touch of bright tartness, and the juicy, sweet flavors of the fruit.  Who doesn’t love sugar cookies, cream cheese frosting and juicy, summer-ripe fruit? There are endless ways to decorate these pizzas and they can be an exciting, hands-on activity to let the kids get their creativity flowing.  Looking for a super fun way to spend a hot, summer afternoon? Make these into mini pizzas, let the kids play with their food and design their own mosaic masterpieces. I made the pizza, pictured above, on a jelly roll pan for a large family gathering.

 

I pushed the easy button and used Pillsbury sugar cookie dough, which I found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  If you have the time, energy and desire, go ahead and use your homemade sugar cookie dough.

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Spread the dough out onto your pan. You can make the pizza into a large rectangle like I did, a large round pizza or smaller, individual pizzas. I used a silicone liner underneath to prevent any sticking.  I use them almost everyday for rolls, cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, chicken, fish, and especially sticky caramel apples. Seriously, nothing sticks to them, they wash so easily in soapy water and I love their durability! These are my favorite silicone baking mats.  Bake the dough and allow to cool.

 

While your cookie crust cools, beat softened cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. TIP: I always add the sugar first and then the butter, cream cheese or wet ingredients to the mixer.  The sugar in the bottom creates a barrier which lessens the need to scrape the bowl as much.  Add vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest to the cream cheese frosting and beat well.  If you are not a fan of lemon, just increase the vanilla extract and omit the lemon extract and zest.

 

Frost the cooled cookie crust with the cream cheese frosting, slice the fresh fruit and drain any canned fruit very well. I used raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, and mandarin oranges.  The key is to choose fruit in many different colors.

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Mr. Incredible is super creative so I left the decorating to him.  He enlisted the help of some of our girls.  TIP: To make your design symmetrical, start laying down fruit in the middle and work your way out or whatever you do to one side, do immediately to the other side.  My daughter is ready to share the pizza she helped her daddy design at the pool party.

 

Fruit Pizza with a Twist

Ingredients:

2 (15.5 oz.) rolls sugar cookie dough, softened

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp lemon zest

kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

strawberries, hulled and sliced

raspberries

blueberries

mandarin oranges, drained well

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Roll out cookie dough on to a jelly roll pan, lined with a silicone baking mat Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Wash and prepare fruit. Set aside.

Beat sugar and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.  Add extracts and zest and mix well to incorporate.  Spread cream cheese mixture onto the cooled cookie crust.

Lay fruit onto pizza, in desired design.  Cover and keep refrigerated or serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers, if any.  Enjoy!