I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase ‘it’s all in the name’, and for me it is with this recipe. Happy Day Cake. Has there been a more uplifting, simple, sweet name for a dessert? Ever? I think not.Around the holidays I was meandering through some shopping and came upon a small spiral-bound book called the ‘Kitchen Scrap Book’. It is a published cook book broken into sections of food with recipes printed by the publisher on the first page of each section, followed by blank pages for the book’s owner to jot down their favorites.
I was instantly charmed by its diminutive size and the blotted recipes written in fountain pen. The book was published in 1937. I opened to the page with a recipe for Happy Day Cake. My response was a bit like seeing the cutest puppy in the world and I bought the book immediately. I pored through all the recipes seemingly all added by different cooks. Some signed their names. It made me realize what a different dimension is added to a recipe when reading it in someone’s handwriting.
After making the cake myself I did some sleuthing and it seems this was a cake made for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. I personally don’t think one should wait for a marked date to make this. Any day is made happy merely by making the cake!
Happy Day Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting
Ingredients for the Happy Day Cake:
- 2 ¼ cups cake flour (I used regular gluten free flour)
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup shortening (I used organic Spectrum brand shortening)*
- 1 cup half and half (the original recipe calls for milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
Ingredients for Simple Strawberry Puree:
- 16 ounces frozen hulled strawberries , thawed** (save any liquid from thawing!)
- Sugar or honey
Ingredients for the Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting and cake filling (ingredients broken out in instructions):
- 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
- Simple Strawberry Puree
Instructions for the Happy Day Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut parchment to fit in the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans. Spray with non stick spray (note: the original recipe indicated to put the parchment in the pan and then to grease them. I opted for spray which may not be necessary but it released the cakes easily when done).
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl with hand mixer) mix shortening on low speed to soften. Spoon in sifted ingredients, a little at a time while mixing on low to fully combine.
- Slowly add ¾ cup of the half and half until fully mixed. Mix on medium for 2 minutes.
- Add the eggs and remaining ¼ cup half and half. Mix on medium speed for a minute until smooth.
- Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes until cakes are beginning to brown on the top and spring up to the touch.
- Remove and let pans cool on cooling racks for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, remove parchment paper and allow to cool fully on cooling racks. While cakes are cooling prepare the strawberry puree and the frosting.
Instructions for Simple Strawberry Puree:
- Place strawberries and liquid in a blender and select the ‘puree’ setting. Pulse until berries are liquefied.
- Add sweetener by the teaspoon until desired flavor. The berries will be mixed with sweetened whip cream so they don’t need to be overly sweet.
Instructions for cake filling:
- In the chilled bowl of a standing mixer (or a chilled metal bowl with a handheld mixer), combine 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla.
- Begin to mix with the whisk attachment at low speed to combine ingredients. Increase speed to high. As mixture begins to thicken (a few minutes) add 5 tablespoons Strawberry Puree.
- Beat until mixture until peaks form.
Instructions for Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting:
- In the chilled bowl of a standing mixer (or a chilled metal bowl with a handheld mixer), combine: 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream, 1 ½ tablespoon sugar and ¾ teaspoon vanilla.
- Begin to mix with the whisk attachment at low speed to combine ingredients. Increase speed to high. As mixture begins to thicken (a few minutes) add 6-7 tablespoons Strawberry Puree.
- Beat until mixture until peaks form.
Assembling the cake:
- When cake layers are fully cooed, place one layer flat side down on a serving plate. Frost the top of the layer with the Cake Filling. Place second layer of cake, flat side down, on the filling. Frost top and outside of cake with the Cake Frosting.
*the original recipe has a substitution option to use butter instead of shortening. If substituting butter, margarine or lard for shortening reduce the milk or half and half to 7/8 cup. I cannot comment on making the recipe with this substitution but wanted to include the option.
* You can use fresh strawberries and if they don’t have enough liquid add water by the tablespoon until the strawberries liquefy in the blender. This recipe makes a bit more than you’ll use but you can drizzle it on the cake or use it for other things like pancakes.