April 16, 2014

Homemade Strawberry Cake Mix

Warning: This post contains words that are not actually bad, but that you might not enjoy explaining to your kidlets. Continue at your own peril. I don't have a choice; this is my life
Did you guys know that I apparently have a really sexy phone voice? I always thought I sounded like a small child, but apparently that's not the case. Practically the first time G and I met, she informed me I had a "porn" voice. Just recently, an exec she's friends with was in her office when I called him to tell him his visitors were in the lobby. He hung up with me, turned to G and said, "You know, she could make a lot of money as one of those phone sex operators."

I told G she should ask him what his basis for comparison was.

But these are both people I know and work with and attempt to embarrass me on a regular basis. I take what they say with a grain of salt, you know? It's the random strangers that have finally convinced me. This one time, I had a guy call in to ask for the company's website (because he didn't know how to Google?), and he told me I had a "pleasant accent" and then lingered on the phone telling me all about his exciting job as a Macy's buyer in upstate New York, then followed that up with, "Are you about medium height? 5'3", 5'4"?"

W.T.F. Also, no. (He even tried calling back, but the phone was really busy at the time, and I had an excuse to keep him on hold until he hung up)

And the other day, I had this caller that I was getting annoyed with, because he would not accept the fact that the person he was looking for was not listed. He asked for my name, and I thought he was going to ask to speak to my manager (they do that sometimes, because I'm obviously lying to them for my own nefarious purposes), and said, "Kim, your voice is so sweet."

Umm, thanks?

He then asked for my cell phone number. I tried to let him down gently, I did, but he kept pushing, telling me how "sweet" my voice was, and about how he's an account manager, "Your voice is just so sweet, I would really like your cell phone number, please, or your email address."

I finally told him that I had a call on the other line and I had to go (lie, but if Bossman has a problem with that, he can deal with it), and the guy laughed and started to say something else, and I just hung up. SO CREEPY.

PRO-TIP: Trying to pick up the phone operator makes you seem kind of pervy.
What does this have to do with cake mix? Absolutely nothing. I just thought you'd be amused.

Anyway, strawberry cake mix: whaaaaaaaaaaat. I think I've outdone myself this time.

This cake mix utilizes powdered strawberries. Not strawberry flavored powder. Not strawberry drink mix. Real, actual, organic strawberries that were freeze-dried, and then ground up. Now this is a real specialty item, but you can totally make it yourself using this tutorial from the Cupcake Project, or this method from I Run For Wine. I haven't tried either since stores near me don't really carry that much in the way of dried fruit, and leaving the oven on overnight to dry my own kind of freaks me out, but you've got options if you can't find the powder.

I, on the other hand, have a homemade mix obsession, and therefore if I see a powdered ingredient, I snatch it up, no questions asked.
Now, don't go thinking this mix is going to be like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix. It neither tastes not looks the same (I did add a little powdered red food coloring that I had leftover from the Red Velvet Cake Mixes, but you can see that it still leans more towards brown than the hot pink of the boxed mixes). This is a strawberry-flavored buttermilk cake, moist and light, and not too sweet. I adapted it from my Strawberry Cupcakes to make it a little more mix friendly, and it's good.

The strawberry flavor isn't huge, but you can't miss it, and it's a lot deeper and more real than from the boxed mixes. If you want a real strawberry punch, I'd suggest mixing in about a cup of diced fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Cake Mix
Yield: Approx. 6 cups dry mix

2½ cups flour
2 cups sugar
⅓ cup powdered strawberries
2½ tbsp. dry buttermilk powder
1 tsp. red food coloring powder (optional)
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter-flavored shortening*

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the shortening. Using a pastry cutter (or pulse in a food processor) cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place up to 3 months. (To extend the shelf life, store in the refrigerator or freezer).

To bake: Combine the mix with 1⅓ cups water, 2 eggs, and ½ tsp. vanilla extract. Bake at 350 degrees F 20 minutes for cupcakes, 30 minutes for 2 9-inch round cakes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting and serving.

*If you'd prefer, cold butter can be used in place of shortening. Just store the mix in the freezer.

Recipe by Kim