strawberry poke cake with whipped cream frosting

3 years and one baby later dirt bike man and i have been married.

let me tell you, marriage is not easy, but it's not as difficult as mainstream culture tells you.  im thankful for our faith in the Lord each day as without Him marriage would not be possible.  in the end, it's not about how in love you are with each other (because we know this will ebb and flow) and its's not about how pretty you two look (because that will go away real quick).  but it's about displaying God's love in and through the marriage with God in the center of it all.  of course, we can never be perfect at this and we don't pretend to be!  God is who we keep coming back to in order to feel forgiveness in Him so we can forgive each other when the need arises.

so i did want to make dirt bike man a special cake before we go on our anniversary trip next week.  in fact i put Aperol in the strawberries as a reminder of our Italian anniversary trip last year, where we brought back Italian candies, some perfume (from a nice, but goofy Italian kid with a British accent whose shop was tucked away in a market in Bologna that just needed someone to talk to so much so he gave us perfume for free) along with baby #1.

for our anniversary, we planned on going to platte river state park where we got married to picnic and hike, but we figured it would be too rushed to drive there on a weeknight after work (it's not too close to where we live) and this weekend is already packed with mother's day festivities (we picked a good week to get married!  mother's day and our nieces bd is the same day as our anniversary! makes for a busy weekend, but the hobbs' family celebrates our anniversary, a bd and mother's day all in one together each year and it's super special).  so we improvised and decided to have a picnic in our backyard instead!  but it rained heavily that day so we improvised again and had a picnic on our deck :)  better rain this year than on our wedding day, which was so beautiful.  nebraska weather is only so mild for but a few days out of the year too.  so it basically turned into any other night, but we made it special anyways.  i packed our picnic basket with soup, mr. and mrs. hobbs mortadella sandwiches (mortadella...another reminder of our italy trip!), fruit snacks, homemade hummus, veggies and of course coffee. a hobbs cannot go very far from home (even a deck) without coffee.

strawberry poke cake

serves 24

strawberries:

4 cups quartered strawberries

2 T white sugar

2 T Aperol (totally optional)

for the cake:

2 cups white sugar

1 cup butter

4 eggs

1 t vanilla + 1 t almond extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 t baking powder

1 cup milk

PAM baking spray

for the strawberry poke part:

1 6 oz box of strawberry jello

1 cup boiling water

~1/2 cup of liquid drained from strawberries and sugar mixture

whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1) cut strawberries in quarters and add sugar and Aperol.  let sit in fridge for 30 mins.

2) in the meantime, make the cake.  preheat oven to 350 F.  spray 9" by 3" tall round cake pan with PAM.

3) cream together sugar and butter.  beat in eggs one at a time until each is incorporated, then stir in vanilla and almond extracts.  combine flour and baking powder, add to creamed mixture and mix well.  add milk and mix until smooth.  pour into cake pan.

4) bake for 50-55 mins or until set in center.  let cake sit for 5 mins and then remove from pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.  be sure to place top of cake face down on cooling rack.  this will level the cake so you don't have to trim it.

5) add boiling water to strawberry jello and stir until dissolved.  add 1/2 cup of liquid drained from strawberries.

6) cut cake in half to divide into two layers.  poke both halves with a fork all over the exposed cake.  pour jello mixture on both halves evenly.

7) beat heavy cream until foamy then add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

8) place whipped cream on top of first cake layer strawberry jello side up.  spread into a thin layer and place second layer on top strawberry jello side up.

9) place whipped cream on the outside of the cake and use a metal bench scraper to scrape sides smooth.  finish top of cake with an offset spatula until smooth.

10) serve with sugared strawberries!

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