the cake

In case you were wondering, Colin's first birthday cake is an old family recipe. I got it from my mom, who got it (I think) from a church lady cookbook. I think it must have originated on the back of a box somewhere. Anyway, as my cooking skills have progressed I've become a very fresh ingredients, do it all from scratch kind of person, but this is one semi-homemade recipe that will stay in my files forever. It is SO good-- fruity, moist, and sweet without being overly rich. It's one of my favorites in the Desserts, Baked, Non-Chocolate category. Anyway, here it is, with my notes in italics.

Strawberry Jell-O Cake
1 box cake mix, white or yellow I prefer yellow
4 tbsp. flour
1 pkg. strawberry Jell-O (small box)
1/2 c. cooking oil I use canola or peanut
1/2 c. water
4 eggs
1 c. crushed strawberries, with juice (frozen okay) I defrost them until almost warm in the microwave, then mash til very soupy with a fork

2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. crushed strawberries
1 tbsp. butter

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix together cake mix, flour, and Jell-O.
3. Add oil and water; blend well.
4. Add eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly after each.
5. Stir in strawberries.
6. Pour batter into (2) 9" round pans. The original recipe calls for a bundt or tube pan, but that never works as well for me; it alwys retains about half the cake when i try to turn it out. Whatever kind of pan you use, butter and flour generously. My mom just bakes it in a 9"x13" glass dish and leaves it in there, so she doesn't have to deal with the pan release problem at all.
7. Bake about 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.
8. To prepare icing, blend all ingredients until very smooth. Spread over cake while hot. So the trick is to let the cake cool enough that the pans will release it, but not so much that it won't absorb the icing. This takes a little practice.

I should also note that, while the icing in the recipes is quite nice and complements the texture oif the cake very well, you could also use a cream cheese frosting and garnish with fresh strawberries, or just serve the cake plain with a dollop of chilled sweetened whipped cream. Yum, yum!

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