My mom has a thing for gardens – she and plants, they speak the same language. Every year for Mother’s day, The Brother and I get her plants or flowers. Once when we were young, it was a rose bush. That bush is now as big as I am, and blooms dozens of little pink roses every summer. Last year it was a pear tree – it’s blooming for the first time this spring, but has a couple years yet before it will fruit.
This year, I thought I would surprise her with something a little bit different, combining her love of flowers with… well, her love of cake. Because what mom doesn’t love a freshly baked bouquet?
One of her favorite cake combos is rich chocolate Devil’s Food, with strawberries and whipped cream. I fancied things up a bit, making this luscious Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – which, with a touch of vanilla extract, happens to taste exactly like strawberry ice cream. Cake and ice cream! What could be better than that?
I used David Lebovitz’s Devil’s Food Cake recipe, and Martha Stuart’s Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, each adapted only slightly. The green leaves are a simple vanilla buttercream, tinted with gel food coloring.
This cake was, to me, the quintessential chocolate cake – moist, but not too heavy. Rich with chocolate flavor, but not too sweet. Intense, but balanced by the fluffy, fresh buttercream. I’ll tell ya, my mom’s got taste!
Chocolate cake lends itself particularly well to the ‘dirt’ look, here, but you could substitute virtually any cake and frosting combination you like – whatever would make your mom the most happy.
I baked about 1/3 of the batter in a terra cotta flower pot. Yes, it is a regular (clean) flower pot – you can find them at your local hardware store, garden center, or craft supply. I slipped a cupcake liner into the bottom, to cover the hole, and lined the sides with parchment paper – this may or may not be necessary, but I couldn’t help but imagine the absorbent clay pot sucking the moisture from my cake. Plus, the parchment makes the cake easy to remove from the pot, if you’d rather not eat it as is.
The cake rose in the oven, creating a large mounded top – I leveled this with a small knife, spread a layer of frosting, then crumbled the extra cake over the top to resemble dirt. As unappetizing as it sounds, this was the tastiest dirt I’ve ever eaten.
With the rest of my batter I made mini cupcakes. These are another favorite of my mom’s, and really, who can argue with cute and tiny? Just to put the icing on the cake (no pun intended) I piped the frosting to make pretty pink flowers. I’d hate to break the tradition of flowers on mother’s day.
For the dark edges of the petals and leaves, I smeared a stripe of food coloring down the inside of my piping bags before filling them. Squeezing the buttercream around in the bag a little will create a nice gradient of color.
Needless to say, my mother was pleased. There were “oo’s” and “aah’s”, and after a decadent dinner we dove into dessert.
And to all mom’s, Happy Mother’s Day! Today is your day – may it be as beautiful and sweet as you are.