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Food
Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake

Cake:
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries and juice

Frosting:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, or more if needed
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries and juice, or more if needed

Garnish:
1 cup halved fresh strawberries

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, strawberry gelatin, flour, oil, sugar, milk, eggs and strawberries and juice 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. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and place them in the oven. If your oven is not large enough, place two pans on the center rack and place the third pan in the center of the highest rack.

Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and just start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 33 to 35 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the layer on the highest oven rack. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and blend it with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 20 seconds. Stop the machine and add 4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup strawberries and juice. Blend on low speed until the frosting is creamy and of a spreadable consistency. If it is too thin, add more sugar. If it is too thick, add more strawberries.

To assemble, place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Add another layer, right side up, on top of the first and frost the top. Repeat this process with the third layer and frost the top; the cake should now resemble a torte with the sides left unfrosted. Decorate the top attractively with the halved strawberries. Serve at once or chill the cake for later serving. (We recommend serving this cake with additional sliced fresh strawberries.) Serves 16.

"The Cake Mix Doctor" by Anne Byrn

Thursday, June 06, 2002

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