Breast Cancer Awareness Quilt Cake

I had this aunt once.

She was a straight talking, tell it like it is, funny, loving, crafty lady.

She was the sister of my dad.

She was the sister of my other aunt, and my uncle.

She had a crazy cat that she loved unconditionally, and a loving husband that she laughed with often.

She was a pianist and a singer who loved Christmas.

She could cook some delicious food, but never mastered how to make Kool Aid, of all things.

She made us homemade gifts for Christmas every year, and she passed her craftiness on to me.

She loved playing board games.

She had the greenest thumbs of anyone I’ve ever known, and grew incredible themed gardens all around her home.

She began quilting later in her life, and made it her goal to gift every family member with a quilt of their own.

She was an incredibly strong woman who worked hard, and enjoyed every day she was given on earth.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only in her mid-forties.

She fought bravely, with great strength and dignity for almost 10 years.

She lost her battle in 2004.

She lives on every, single day in our hearts and memories, and in the beautiful quilts she made for the ones she loved.

In honor of my smart, funny, wonderful aunt; in honor of her, and of all the other fighters out there, and in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I made a pink strawberry cake with delicious whipped strawberry rose frosting, and topped with a sweet fondant quilt inspired by my aunt.

For the cake, I started with a basic yellow cake consisting of sugar, cake flour, unsalted butter (at room temperature), milk (at room temperature), eggs (at room temperature), vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt.

Then I added some delicious, amazing, beautiful strawberry puree.

If you’re like me, you’ll walk around your kitchen singing ‘strawberry puree’ to the tune of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” while you’re making this. Yes, raspberry puree works much better for the song, but believe me when I say, strawberry works, too. ;)

You can use either fresh, hulled strawberries for this, or you can use frozen berries. I used frozen strawberries for both the cake and the frosting, and they both turned out pink, flavorful, and beautiful.

The batter naturally has a very soft pink color from the strawberries, but you can punch that up a bit with food coloring, if you like.

Once the cakes are cooled, you’re going to frost them with what is pretty much the best frosting in the whole wide entire world ever. Ever.

Back in August, Rosie, of Sweetapolita, made the most delicious looking strawberry layer cake. Having made the original adaptation that she used before, I already knew it was definitely a good cake, but what really caught my eye was her frosting. It’s a whipped strawberry frosting that she says tastes like strawberry ice cream. Seriously, how can I pass that up?

I tweaked Rosie’s recipe slightly to my taste, then I added rose water to make it extra special for my aunt. Roses and strawberries work beautifully together because they come from the same family, and this frosting proves that. Thanks to Rosie’s original technique, it’s creamy, smooth, and light, and with my changes, it’s full of sweet strawberry flavor (with just the tiniest hint of their tartness), and the mellow, gorgeous scent of roses.

Heaven.

Really.

Then, if you’re really smart, you’ll coat the sides of the cake in this stuff. This is Cosmopolitan rimming sugar, and it is so delicious. I don’t know if it’s actually meant for drink making; it’s just like sanding sugar. I bought this last year when I made my Cosmopolicakes and I love it. It’s this pretty reddish pink color, and it has a lovely citrusy taste.

It perfectly compliments my cake in both looks and flavor. Plus, it covers the sides of my cake so that I don’t have to try to make them perfect. As you can see from the photo, though, the frosting goes on smooth anyway.

Now it’s time to make the quilt. I wanted my quilt to look as much like a real quilt as possible, so I did a lot of research around the interwebs. I have never made a quilt in my life, but after planning this quilt, I can imagine how rewarding it would be to complete a real one!

To start with, I rolled out different shades of pink fondant and cut out several two-inch squares from each one.

I rolled the fondant relatively thin, because I planned to lay the pieces on another, larger square of fondant, and I didn’t want the whole thing to be way to heavy.

Whatever leftover fondant you have after cutting your squares out can be used to make another shade of pink, so don’t throw it out.

Next, I embossed several of the squares using these texture tiles from Duff. These things are super cool, and incredibly easy to use. They’re sold at Michaels stores in the U.S., and I love mine.

By embossing the squares, they look more like real quilting fabric. I left half of them plain, though, because it helped the texture of the embossed ones stand out more.

Cut each square in half, diagonally. Then, cut each triangle into half-inch wide strips.

As I said earlier, I decided to put my quilt pieces on another, larger square. I just rolled out an eight by eight-inch piece of plain, white fondant.

Then, using my research as my guide, I began placing the strips. I simply brushed the backs of the strips with a very light coating of water to “glue” them in place.

You can make this a simple, beautiful patchwork quilt, or you can go a little more intricate like I’ve done here, and it looks fantastic either way.

I’m really pleased with the end result. I finished the quilt off with a simple, pink breast cancer awareness ribbon in the center, then gently arranged it on my cake, allowing it to fold and wrinkle like a real blanket.

For the first time since I started blogging, the pictures really don’t do the work enough justice. In person, this fondant blanket looks like a real, tiny, hand sewn quilt. I’m incredibly proud of it, and I know my aunt would have loved it.

I know this may seem like a schmancy, intricate, difficult cake, but I promise you, it’s quick and painless, and so worth it that I can’t even put it into words. Even if you skip the quilt, this cake is gorgeous, incredible, and seriously scrumptious (seriously), and you should make it and share it with your friends while you’re all waiting to have your boobies smashed at the doctor’s office.

October is almost half over, but it’s not too late to show your support for breast cancer awareness. Wear pink, bake pink, drink pink, think pink! About 1 in 8 women (12%) in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and over 70% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history. In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Administer self examinations regularly, and ask your doctor lots of questions. If you’re over 40, schedule a mammogram and get it done. Take your friends, and eat cake as your reward! Remind the women in your life to get their mammograms. Speak up, make change, and help save lives.

Strawberry Cake [Printable Version]
Makes 2 8-inch round layers

Ingredients

3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, at room temperature
3/4 cups (188 ml) strawberry puree (made with fresh or frozen strawberries)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (240 grams) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (151 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/4 cups (225 grams) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8- or 9-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and set aside.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, strawberry puree, and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing until the dough comes together and looks sandy (do not allow the mixture to become doughy; it should only be sandy and pebbly).

Add about half of the egg mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly add the remaining egg mixture, with the mixer on low speed, until incorporated. Scrape the bowl, if necessary, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for about 20 seconds. The batter will just barely look a little curdled.

Divide that batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Strawberry Rose Frosting [Printable Version]

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks or 339 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups (500 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) rose water (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (143 ml) strawberry puree (made with fresh or frozen strawberries)

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the butter for 8 minutes on medium speed, until the butter is light in color and creamy.

Add the sugar and cream and mix on low speed for 1 minute, stir in the rose water and vanilla. Increase mixer to medium speed and whip the mixture for another 6 minutes, until the frosting is very light and creamy.

Stir in the strawberry puree until incorporated.

Rosie recommends that this be used right away, but that it can be covered in an airtight container at room temperature for an extra day or so (mine was still great after 2 days, but I doubt I would have tried to decorate with it at that point).

Cake recipe by Darla, Frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

Breast cancer statistics courtesy of my friend, and professional booby smasher, Heather M.

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Comments

  1. says

    The cake and your story are both beautiful. This is my first visit to your blog so I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that. You’ve created a lovely spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  2. says

    …Oh my, my, my. Miss Bakerella, you’ve outdone yourself again! And not only with that spectacular work of art you call a cake but the whole message behind the whole thing! You never cease to amaze girl and for that I “thank you” and that is just one more reason we all love you so dadgum much! ;o)

    …A simply stunning cake with a sweet story and a life saving message to boot! Who could ask for more?

    …Blessings to you :o)

    • says

      …*gulp* Where is that delete button?! My sincerest apologies as I thought I was at Bakerella’s site! Please delete my comment for me and again, I am sorry. :o\ *so embarrassed*

      …Still a gorgeous cake with a wonderful story and message!

      …Blessings

  3. Heather says

    Darla – what a beautiful tribute to your Aunt. You really love her still. My Aunt was also diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. She’s had a double mastectomy and is still in the midst of reconstruction. I’m glad to say that she is doing well and that she is fighting like mad to be cancer free. Thank you so much for your passion and inspiration.

  4. says

    Wow, what an amazing cake. Very nicely done. I am in awe of the creativity and the patience it takes to make something like that. A wonderful tribute to your aunt. On another note, I now have stuck in my head…Strawberry puree.. the kind you make in your kitchen at home…

  5. says

    Wonderful tribute to your aunt as well as a worthy cause. This one really does reflect your passion for creating in the kitchen, your strong yet loving memory of your aunt and your conviction to help stamp out breast cancer. I would say your aunt would be very proud and you should be as well.
    Your cake is nothing other than fabulous!

  6. Angela E says

    Oh, I really want a piece of that cake. Or even just the strawberry puree you made, because hmm, strawberries! It doesn’t help that they’re a pregnancy craving most of the time anyway. It looks amazing and the story was special. I had an aunt like that too…she beat the breast cancer but not the liver and uterine cancers. Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    What a beautiful cake! I’m sorry for the loss of your aunt and thank you for sharing your story and inspiration for this cake. You and your aunt will be in my thoughts during the 3-day for the cure in November!

  8. SarahBee says

    This cake reminded me when I was a Girl Scout in middle school and we made simple lap quilts to give to women who were going through chemo. My past Girl Scout leader Carolyn later lost her battle to breast cancer in 2008, this cake reminded me of her. Thanks for this beautiful idea.

  9. says

    Wow. This has to be one of the most amazing things I have seen. One, it is insanely gorgeous and perfect. Two, it’s sentimental and stands for a purpose. And three, your words about your aunt touched me. I’m sure she is looking down on you and feels so loved and feels so proud of you! this is amazing, wish people everywhere could see this cake and the purpose it stands for!

  10. says

    Darla, what a great tribute to your aunt and for the breast cancer awareness. I’m a breast cancer survivor (you can read my story on my blog) and I advocate mammograms and self examinations to who ever listens to me. Thank you for your kindness

  11. bttrflybabydoll says

    I think I’m going to cry. That was a beautiful post. The cake is just gorgeous too, but your post about your aunt was fabulous. You are incredibly talented and I’m sure she would be so proud and honored.

  12. Sarah says

    I was unable to find rose water at the places I went :( but I decided what I really wanted was a strawberry-lime frosting. So I substituted 2 tsp of the rose water for lime juice and 1 tsp more of the cream, and cut the vanilla down to 1 tsp. SO GOOD. You are so amazing and I love every recipe of yours I try!

  13. Lynn says

    Darla! I did something wrong! My cakes didn’t raise and were VERY heavy and dense. What did I do? It seems anytime I do something with cake flour this happens. :'(
    The frosting, on the other hand, was fantastic!

  14. Diane says

    Your tribute to your aunt is beautiful! The pink ribbon holds a place near my heart as I am a breast cancer survivor.

    I was wondering, how did you put the sugar onto the side of the cake? Also, what tip did you use to create the border on the bottom of the cake? Thanks for your tips.

    • says

      Thank you, Diane. :) And I’m so happy you’ve beaten the cancer. Congrats!

      To get the sugar on the outside of the cake, I filled a bowl with sanding sugar. I held the cake over a large plate (or cookie sheet…anything that has sides or a lip and that’s large enough to catch the sugar), I tilted the cake ever-so-slightly to the side (not too much, or the cake could slide, lean, or fall over). You barely need to tilt it, just enough to get even the slightest angle. Next, I simply scooped a handful of the sugar up and sprinkled it onto the side of the cake, allowing the large plate underneath to catch the excess sugar so I could use it again.

      It takes a little bit of practice to do this, and I recommend starting with a shorter or smaller cake, but the end result is very lovely. You can also use other ingredients, like sprinkles, cookie crumbs, and chopped nuts.

      Be sure to do this right after frosting the cake, while the frosting is still wet, so that the sugar will stick. If you wait too long, the surface of the sugar will dry, and nothing will stick to it.

      I hope this is helpful! :)

  15. Valerie says

    The Strawberry Puree song is GOLD. I am very much like you in that I would be singing the same. I also sing “Two Pop Tarts (pop tarts that heat as one) Two Pop Tarts (I eat you, I eat you)” Instead of Two Of Hearts by Stacey Q

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