In all my years of baking, I still haven’t really made just a plain, normal cake. Well, friends, I have to say that today? I still haven’t.
I’ve always been a bit hesitant to make a cake, though. It’s just so easy to leave them tasting bland, or dry, or just not good. That’s why I usually either go with a tea cake, or cupcakes, or just cookies instead.
What is a poke cake? It’s intrigued me ever since I saw some neat examples on Facebook. It’s basically just a cake that you poke holes in, and then cover with a fruit puree. The fruit sinks into the holes and absorbs into the cake around them, infusing it with more flavor.
If you take a poke cake as a whole, it seems pretty overwhelming. But, if you divide it into its component parts, it turns out it’s actually pretty easy. So, that’s what I did! It worked pretty well, and I have to say, it’s a fairly delicious twist on the strawberry-and-cream pound cake that’s popular this time of year.
The three parts are, as you might expect:
- The cake.
- The whipped cream topping.
- The fruit puree.
I used strawberry, both because strawberries are coming into season so I’m craving them, and because it’s simple and easy to make.
The cake is a cake, there’s not a lot to say there. Somehow, when you cover a cake with fruit and cream, it’s tasty no matter how you slice it.
The fruit puree is also pretty simple. I didn’t even bother to make a compote this time, though I could have. The trick is to thicken it a bit with some corn starch to prevent it from fully soaking into the cake and making it a soggy mess.
The whipped cream is the tricky part. Whipped cream — just pure cream, air, and sugar — will collapse over time. It’s still tasty, of course, but when your cake gets soggy with cream, it’s no longer nice and fluffy and photogenic.
There are two ways you can solve this problem, at least that I’ve found.
The first is to use gelatin in your whipped cream. This makes it a bit thicker and more like a cream Jello, though it’s still very much whipped cream. I didn’t have any plain gelatin on hand, though, so I used the second option.
The second option is to mix in some cream cheese. The end result is still light and fluffy like whipped cream, but it has a slightly thicker texture and tastes almost like a fluffed up cream cheese frosting. It’s definitely delicious, but if you don’t want the altered flavor, try the gelatin method instead.
Want to know how I make it? Here you go.
Strawberry Poke Cake
- Stand Mixer
- Sheet Cake Pan 9×13"
- Wide Round-Handled Spoon Or dowel of some kind, to poke holes.
- Mixing Bowls
- Immersion Blender
- Sauce Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Cooling Rack
For the Whipped Cream
- 8 Oz. Cream Cheese
- ⅔ Cup Powdered Sugar
- 2¼ Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
For the Strawberry Puree
- 3 Cups Fresh Strawberries Frozen works too.
- ¾ Cup Water
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 2 Tsp Lemon Juice
For the Cake
- 1⅔ Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
- ½ Cup Unsalted Butter Melted.
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 Eggs Room Temperature.
- 1¾ Cup Buttermilk Room Temperature.
- 3 Tsp Baking Powder
- ¾ Tsp Baking Soda
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 2⅔ Cups Cake Flour
Make the Strawberry Puree
- Heat a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. Stir together the strawberries, water, sugar, corn starch, and salt.
- Stir occasionally as it cooks for about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer for around 10 minutes, until the berries are starting to break down and the sauce starts to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Use the immersion blender to blend the puree until it's a thick and pour-able strawberry sauce. Mix in the lemon juice and set aside until needed.
Make the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your baking pan and line with parchment paper.
- In your mixer, whisk together sugar, oil, butter, and vanilla until well combined.
- Add two eggs, plus the yolk from the third, and combine.
- Add in the buttermilk and combine.
- Add in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and combine.
- Sift in the flour and mix until almost, but not quite, smooth.
- Pour your batter into your pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean but moist.
- Move your cake to a cooling rack to cool and use your spoon handle or dowel to poke holes in the cake. I like a wooden spoon for this.
- Carefully pour most of the strawberry puree in the holes and over the top of the cake, reserving a couple of tablespoons (3-4) for the finishing touch.
- Put the cake in the fridge to chill for 2-3 hours.
Make the Whipped Cream
- In your stand mixer, using a whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy.
- On slow speed, slowly add the heavy cream. Once fully added, add the vanilla extract and whip on medium until stiff peaks form.
- Spread a generous layer of whipped cream over top of the cake.
- Drizzle and swirl the remaining puree into the whipped cream layer.
- Chill until ready to serve, or slice and enjoy immediately.