Semi-Homemade Strawberry Cake – Betty Crocker is a (Semi) Ho

This morning I found I had to come up with a birthday cake for later today. Most times, I would love to take a whole day to find the perfect recipe, get the ingredients, bake the cake, etc., but time and circumstance just didn’t allow for it. I couldn’t bring myself to just buy a cake either, so in the spirit of Sandra Lee and semi-homemade cooking, I baked a cake *gasp!* from a box.

Strawberry Cake Mix, Betty Crocker
Betty Crocker is a semi-ho

It was for a little princess, so I could have gone with a white cake frosted with pink-tinted icing, but if i was going to box it, it may as well be more interesting – pink cake! i couldn’t believe when i saw that a strawberry cake mix actually existed. then again, who knew you could just add water to flakes and get mashed potatoes or make an apple taste like a grape?

Strawberry Cupcake Batter
batter up

Suffice it to say that pink, at least strawberry pink from a box, is not a natural color for a cake. Natural colors are yellow, white, and brown, not hot pink. I was strangely attracted to it, though – so unnaturally bright and pink – and it smelled so very…strawberry. This overwhelming essence of strawberry will probably linger in my apartment until Thursday. Ok, maybe Wednesday. The funny thing is, even real strawberries don’t smell this strongly of strawberries.

Strawberry Cupcake cooking in tin
don’t worry. like your tan, color will deepen after baking

To redeem my culinary self, I made the frosting. canned frosting is way too sticky-sweet and way too artificial. Of course, I did just bake a cake the color of nuclear waste from a Barbie power plant, so I’m not quite sure what my real reasoning is. Nonetheless, cream cheese frosting would save me from guilt about *ahem* the box.

Strawberry Cupcake, baked
fake bake

For everything basic, I trust the Joy of Cooking, but its recipe for cream cheese frosting calls for cold cream cheese and a food processor. I had to look elsewhere because I just don’t trust using unsoftened cream cheese (too many experiences with chunky cheesecake, I think!), nor am I comfortable with food process-ed frosting. This one is good.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This is essentially the same recipe as the Last Cream Cheese Frosting You’ll Ever Need, except that it uses softened cream cheese, 1 less tablespoon of butter and 1 less teaspoon of vanilla.


1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted (after measuring)


1. in mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

2. gradually mix in confectioner’s sugar. 2 c is a guideline; use more or less to get desired consistency for frosting.

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