Fresh Strawberry Cake

Shown here as cupcakes, this recipe uses real, fresh strawberries to give it its scrumptious flavor. Naturally delicious!

1 3/4 cups cake flour
4 large eggs, room temp
1/3 cup milk, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
2/3 cup fresh, crushed strawberries*
1 recipe strawberry frosting (below)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350ยบ. Generously grease two 8- or 9-inch round pans and line with parchment or wax paper circles. Grease paper circles and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a bowl and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer and beat for 30 seconds to combine. With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly with some pieces the size of peas after all the butter is added.

3. With the mixer still at the lowest speed, add approximately one cup of the egg mixture then increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the strawberries and remaining egg mixture. Stop mixer, scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat again a medium high until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Divide batter equally between two pans; spread to the side of the pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light gold and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 22-25 minutes (add ~5 minutes for 8-inch rounds). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen. Invert cakes on to a large plate, peel of the paper and reinvert to cooling rack. Cool completely before icing. Let icing set up for about 20 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Icing
1/4 cup butter, softened
3+ cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup fresh crushed strawberries*

Beat butter in a small bowl until light a fluffy. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, salt, 1 tablespoon milk and vanilla. Mix slowly as the sugar incorporates then faster as is becomes smooth. Add another cup of sugar, a tablespoon of milk, and strawberries; mix. Add remaining sugar and milk and repeat mixing. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar or more milk to achieve desired consistency (but no more than 1/4 sugar or 1 tsp milk). It will be a thinner icing due to the strawberries.

*The method I used: hull and dice the strawberries into a bowl. Use a pastry cutter to crush the strawberries into rather small bits. It was slick.