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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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]
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.