Poppy Seeds + Strawberries + Mascarpone = Cake!
I’ve become a big blog reader. It is certainly cutting into my reading of real pages made of paper…but it is still reading. From the moment I read the title of this blog – Not Without Salt…I was hooked! I have a small addiction (read: complete obsession) with salt and the amazing things it can do. Anywho…she made this amazing cake with mascarpone and poppy seeds, and anything with this much fruit has to be (somewhat) healthy…right? That’s what I thought! With the impending quarter century birthday of this lady, I had the perfect occasion to bake this beauty up.
As mentioned…the recipe for Poppy Seed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting can be found here and is the work of Ashley over at Not Without Salt! (I’ll let you visit her blog yourself and discover it for yourself!
In a similar fashion to red velvet cake, there is a touch of vinegar in the cake recipe and she uses Champagne Vinegar…which just makes everything a bit fancier.
The buttery, eggy color of this makes me think it would be a great wall color…maybe just not for me! I added in a little bit of lemon zest into the batter as well.
Can we talk about poppy seeds, please? Small, crunchy and delicious…they add interest to everything from bagels to cookies, cakes and muffins, and one of my favorite applications is tossing them with buttered and salted wide egg noodles served alongside pork chops! Since I love poppy seeds, a recipe that calls for ¼ cup could use up the entire small spice bottle that these little-stick-in-your-teeth-seeds typically come in. If you can, try to buy them in bulk. I’ve had good luck finding small bags at World Market (aka Cost Plus).
The recipe can make either 3 cakes in 8 inch cake pans or 2 cakes in 9 in cake pans. I only had the 9 inch pans, and wish I had gone with the 8 inch ones for an additional layer. Next time, I’ll still use the 9 inch pans, but perhaps slice them horizontally to make it a full 4 layers…’cause who doesn’t like more strawberries and mascarpone frosting!?
Another trick is to grease the pans but also use a parchment round on the bottom. I know they sell these rounds already cut out and perfect…but there’s no need to buy when you can DIY! Get out your parchment paper, and tear off a piece that is plenty big to cover the bottom of the pan. Fold in half width-wise, then fold in half again, and again, and again, and maybe even again! You should end up with a thin and very long triangle’ish shape. Using the point of the parchment and getting it close to the center of your pan, estimate where you should trim it – cut the shortest side of the triangle. Now, unfold, you’ll have something pretty close to a circle, and you can see if it will fit into the pan – if not, fold it back up and cut a little more off the edge…I try and err on the side of it being just slightly too small rather than smushing the corner of the cake by wrapping around. (see photo above for parchment that is slightly too big) This trick works well as an impromptu lid on a pan…and is perfect for glazing carrots – it nests right now on top of the veggies! (thanks Cordon Bleu!)
Yummmm…strawberries! It’s berry season…actually, it’s now getting a little past some of the berries prime. These beauties came from our CSA and were perfect for the job of adorning this cake!
All they needed was a quick wash and some drying time!
Most anyone who knows me realizes that frosting is not my thing. Chocolate is better than plain old buttercream, but I actually prefer cake with little to no frosting…which is why I’m shocked that I liked this frosting. Let me repeat…I. Liked. This. Frosting. It’s even hard for me to write it. But I did…I can’t lie. Sweet, not overwhelming, good texture…delicious! From here on out…mascarpone frosting and I are besties!
Spread the frosting all over the first layer.
Pluck the tops off the strawberries and slice them into quarters.
Pile them on top of the first layer, squeezing as many in as you can. (Unless you have a couple more layers in there…then ration them to make sure you have enough for all layers and for the top as well.)
This looked so good, I had to hold myself back from cutting a slice right there and then…this was after all, a birthday cake! Patience!
Add the second cake layer on top and press down just a bit. Frost the top generously and top with the prettiest strawberries of the bunch!
Since I was taking this into work, I refrigerated it overnight, brought it in and left it on the counter for an hour or so before we served it!
Happy Birthday Miss Jennie! I will eat cake for you anytime!
Apologies for the cell phone picture…but is was delicious and needed documenting – also…this photo reinforces my recommendation for slicing the two 9 inch cake rounds horizontally to get more layers of frosting and strawberries!