For a number of years I made a strawberry cake collected off a flour ad--Martha White, according to my note, back when they were trying to market packages of 2 cups of flour (that being the most common amount needed for recipes, at least according to their market research). The recipe is an oil cake and calls for strawberry Jello and a bag of frozen strawberries, and came out lovely and moist and, pink. I used to think, very pink, until last week. <g>
So, the birthday was coming up, and I had flashbacks to that strawberry cake, but wanted something different. I started out thinking "get away from the Jello" but somehow ended up with an even more artificial look: a strawberry cake I found on Lottie+Doof. It used strawberry jam in the batter, added enough red food coloring to be Red Velvet Cake, then made a cream cheese frosting with more red food coloring and artificial strawberry flavoring. I really don't know why this ended up intriguing me enough to tackle it for my birthday cake, but both the violent color and a desire to use up strawberry jam from my fridge played into it.
My version of the cake was just as on Lottie+Doof, but the frosting called for cups of powdered sugar. I've gone off on that type of frosting, and used Rose's Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting instead, which is cream cheese, a little butter, a touch of sour cream, and melted white chocolate. I had very high cacao white chocolate from Trader Joe's, and used that. I couldn't find artificial strawberry flavoring and used natural. <g> And red food coloring. Lots of it.
Results: it's a good cake, moist like most oil cakes, but doesn't have much strawberry flavor. Same for the frosting, which of course I experimented with--could be both less punch from the natural flavoring, plus the white chocolate asserting itself in competition. The color was....striking, but all in all this one won't be repeated.
I still had a strawberry cake fixation, though, and so turned to Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Summer Cake. It's a simple butter cake batter that is poured into a pie or cake pan (I used a 9" cake pan: a pie plate would have been much easier to serve from), then the top is covered with halved strawberries, sprinkled with sugar, and baked. Simple, lots of strawberry flavor....decidedly not Pink. I did cut back the sugar to 7/8 cup in the batter as Deb mentioned. Most of my strawberries sank, unlike Deb's, and I'm wondering if that's another advantage to the pie plate over the cake pan. It can't be called a pretty cake, but I served it with whipped cream with a little strawberry puree mixed in, and it was very good.
I may still pull out the "Simple Strawberry Cake" with Jello recipe and give it another try--I don't recall it being artificial-tasting, and it was certainly moist and good. Be interesting to see how it seems after the RHC bake-through and other incidents in the evolution of my tastebuds.