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Valerie Doty | CoServ

Decorated with heart-shaped strawberries, this swoon-worthy cake is true to its name. Doty likes it because the berries make a simple cake look spectacular. “For some, like me, decorating a fancy cake is just outside of our abilities,” she says. “This cake is beautiful in its own right.”

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs

8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish or two 8-inch round baking dishes.

2. Cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine all the cake ingredients except eggs and beat with a mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, then beat at least another minute until combined.

3. Pour batter into the dish (or divide between two dishes) and bake 20–30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. If you’re making a layered cake, remove the layers from the dishes after 10 minutes of cooling. Cool cake to room temperature.

4. Frosting: In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the whipped topping, cream cheese and powdered sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add almond extract and beat until well-blended.

5. Spread frosting over the single-layer cake and top with sliced strawberries. If making a double-layered cake, put one layer of the cake on a serving plate, rounded-side down. Top with half the frosting and half the strawberries. Press the second layer flat-side down on top of the first layer, so the strawberries squish into the frosting. Top the second layer with remaining frosting. Do not frost the sides of the layers.

6. Cut the tops of the remaining strawberries with a gouge in the middle and then cut each berry in half lengthwise to form two hearts. Place the strawberry hearts all around the top edge of the cake and some in the center. Store the cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

Serves 8–10.

Cook’s Tip

Feel free to substitute an equal portion of unsalted butter for shortening. The texture will be a bit less firm, but the cake will have a tender crumb texture and delicious flavor.