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KIRBY - Pink Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Updated: Jul 19, 2021


Complexity: ★★★★☆


I can’t think of a better character to inspire Gourmet Smash Ultimate’s first dessert recipe than Nintendo’s sweetest and most adorable hero, Kirby. A dish inspired by this star warrior simply has to be a dessert, given the game’s colourful candy aesthetic and sugar-rush soundtrack. I feel like Kirby himself would be pleased to know that the dish he inspired is a cake – Kirby famously saved the entire world just for a slice in Kirby Squeak Squad! This cake is flavoured as the little guy’s favourite food, too – watermelon, which he frequently enjoyed in the Kirby: Right Back At Ya! anime TV show. In between layers of bright pink cake is soft and pillowy marshmallow, in the spirit of the squishy pink puffball. Decorated with strawberry whipped cream frosting and fresh fruit, this luscious layer cake will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth.


Fair warning – this is a labour-intensive cake. It may look simple, cute, and sweet, but there is a depth and complexity to this decadent dessert! That’s kind of perfectly accurate to Kirby, isn’t it? This recipe requires a lot of time and effort, but the delicious payoff is worth every minute.



 

INGREDIENTS

Cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting cake pans

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cups unsalted butter

  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

  • 4 egg whites, plus 1 whole egg

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ½ cup buttermilk

  • 1 cup watermelon juice, plus more for soaking

  • Red or pink food colouring

Marshmallow:

  • 2 packages of unflavoured gelatin

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting pans

Frostings:

  • 1 pint whipping cream

  • 1 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries

Toppings (optional):

  • Fresh strawberries

  • 1 starfruit, sliced

  • Chocolate straw cookies

  • Mint leaves

The appearance of this cake was modeled after the Strawberry Shortcake from Kirby Squeak Squad.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly greasing with cooking spray, lining with parchment paper rounds, and lightly dusting with flour.

For Cakes:

  1. Pour watermelon juice into a small-medium saucepan and bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer until reduced. It should become thick and syrupy.

  2. Mix cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

  3. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer on high until smooth and creamed. Beat in the eggs and oil on high speed until combined.

  4. Set the mixer to low and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, followed by ½ a cup of watermelon syrup. Be careful not to overmix. Color with a few drops of food colouring.

  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans, weighing to make sure both are equally divided, and level the tops with a spatula. Bake for half an hour, or until cakes are fully baked. Allow cakes to fully cool before assembly.

For Marshmallows:

  1. Dust a 9-inch cake pan (the same size you used for the cake layers) with confectioners' sugar.

  2. Combine the gelatin with ⅓ cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until dissolved.

  3. Meanwhile, combine sugar and corn syrup with another ⅓ cup of water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. When the sugar dissolves, raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240° on a candy thermometer.

  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the syrup into the gelatin. Switch the mixer to high and whip until the mixture thickens. Mix in the vanilla.

  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan (it should only fill it about half way), smooth the top, and allow to set for at least 2 hours.

For Frostings:

  1. Blitz frozen strawberries in a blender or food processor until fine.

  2. Whip the cream and powdered sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until it forms stiff peaks. Incorporate vanilla extract.

  3. Set aside half of the frosting. Beat strawberry puree into the remaining half. Divide each icing into a separate piping bag, one for the strawberry frosting and one for the vanilla.

Assembly & Decoration:

  1. Level both cakes by slicing thin layer off of the top, removing the slight dome created due to rising, so that both cakes are flat (this also gives you an opportunity to taste the cake!)

  2. Place the first cake layer on a cake stand, cut-side up. Lightly brush with watermelon juice – this makes the cake very moist and imbues it with even more watermelon flavour, but be very careful not to over-soak it!

  3. Add a thin layer of the strawberry frosting on top of the soaked cake. Place the layer of marshmallow on top.

  4. Create a “dam” of strawberry frosting around on top of the marshmallow (essentially you want to pipe a circle of frosting around the edge). Evenly fill this circle with a layer of vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries. This simple trick seals the filling inside the cake so it doesn’t spill out between the layers when you are adding the final layer of frosting.

  5. Add the second layer of cake, this time cut-side down (so what was the bottom of the cake in the pan is now the top).

  6. "Crumb coat" the cake by adding a thin, even base layer of strawberry frosting to seal in the crumbs (this primes the cake for the final layer of frosting, allowing it to adhere more smoothly). Place in the fridge to help set the icing.

  7. Using a metal flat spatula or a cake-leveler, apply a coating of strawberry frosting on the cake.

  8. Decorate with dollops of whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Get creative! I added a few mint leaves and sliced star fruit to reference a few key items from the Kirby series.


The garnishes reference a couple of key items found in the Kirby series.

TOP TIER TIPS

  • Make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to every 1 cup of milk and letting stand for 5-10 minutes.

  • Knowing when your cakes are done is a matter of sight, touch, and smell: look for a nice medium colour, not too light and not too dark. Gently touching the top of the cake should feel firm and springy; if it is jiggly like jello there is likely still raw batter inside. Finally, a cake is likely nearing completion when the kitchen begins to smell like delicious cake!

  • Another classic trick to test the doneness of a cake is to insert a toothpick – If it comes out clean and with no residual batter, it is cooked through!

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