Maya asked us how to make the fluffy pink strawberry cake she remembers from childhood. The problem with that cake is that it uses Jell-O and boxed cake mix, and now she wants to make it more naturally. Well, this recipe is still a bit of a compromise but oh will it give you that hot pink color and sweet fruity flavor!
Last winter I showed you the wedding cakes I baked for my brother's wedding. These were simple cakes — just a series of 4-layer vanilla and raspberry cakes stacked up dramatically tall with fresh flowers and sparkling sugar for decoration.
The only thing that gave me pause when planning these cakes was my brother's request for a family favorite: raspberry cake. His favorite birthday cake is very similar to the cake Maya remembers: it calls for white cake mix, frozen raspberries, and raspberry Jell-O.
There was no way I using cake mixes for a wedding cake, so I adapted this recipe to be more homemade, and frankly, better-tasting. I was very nervous about how they would turn out, but the real butter, milk, and good flour made such a difference, and the raspberry taste was just like how I remembered.
But yes, the cake does still have the Jell-O for that "authentic" raspberry flavor. The gelatin adds a deep moistness, too. Hey, for a once-a-year treat, I am not going to rule out gelatin, although it is not something I would usually put in a cake!
This cake is very easy, very moist, and a brilliant hot pink. The icing is just as easy and just as pink. If, like Maya, you would prefer a strawberry cake, try using strawberry gelatin and fresh or frozen strawberries instead. One last note: the icing has no gelatin in it, so if you want to really stay all-natural, what about a dark chocolate cake frosted with hot pink raspberry icing?
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 9" round cake pans with butter or baking spray.
Mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed - creaming the softened shortening and sugar first, then adding the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and finally the milk, gelatin, and raspberries. Using an electric beater, beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, then high for 3 minutes.
Immediately pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back slightly when pressed.
Let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes, then flip each pan over onto the rack and tap gently all over. Lift the pan slightly. If the cake doesn't feel like it's falling out smoothly, lay a slightly damp kitchen towel over the pan and tap again. If necessary, let the cakes cool more. If they have been baked thoroughly, however, they should fall right out of the pans once they've cooled a little and the sides of the cake have shrunk back from the pan.
Cool completely before frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt everywhere.