Growing up in Minnesota in the 70’s & 80’s we made a sheet cake using a box of white cake mix, a box of strawberry gelatin, and Cool-Whip. It was called a Strawberry Poke Cake.   A white sheet cake is poked with a skewer or toothpick many times after it’s baked so that strawberry gelatin can be poured over and seeped into the holes.  It’s frosted all over with whipped topping.  When sliced you can see red lines of strawberry goodness poking down throughout the cake.  This wasn’t a fancy cake, but I remember eating a lot of it during hot Midwestern summers.

I wanted to recreate this fun cake, but make it from scratch.  First, as always, I use Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour in all of my baking.  I prefer Bob’s because it is very fresh and always yields consistent results.  Second, this is  a jazzed up version of the Strawberry Poke Cake with the yummy addition of rhubarb.  Since we are making it from scratch (and not limited to flavors of gelatin) we can play around with the flavors more and have fun with it.  Finally, I offer two versions of this cake.  One is rich with a cream cheese frosting.  The other is lighter with a whipped cream frosting.

Again, this is not a fancy cake.  It’s a cake for casual gatherings with people you love.  Serve it right out of the pan.  Perfect for barbeques, potlucks, kid-friendly events or weeknight desserts.

Strawberry Rhubarb Poke Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes one 13 x 9 ” sheet cake

Cake

2 1/4 cups Bobs Red Mill All-Purpose Flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 egg whites

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 13″ x 9″ cake pan.  Beat all ingredients except egg whites in large bowl on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Scrape down bowl if necessary.  Beat on high speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg whites on high speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake about 40-45 minutes testing center with a wooden skewer.  Skewer should come out clean when cake is ready to be taken out of oven.  Cool cake in pan completely on wire rack, two to three hours.

Strawberry Rhubarb Glaze

3 1/2 cups strawberries (3 cups chopped for glaze and reserve 1/2 cup for decorating the top of the cake)

1 cup rhubarb, chopped

6 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons strawberry Jell-O

Combine 3 cups of the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until berries and rhubarb are softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Strain mixture in medium bowl, reserving the solids.  Whisk Jell-O into the liquid and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Using a wooden skewer, poke about 40 holes into the cake.  Do not poke all the way through to the cake pan.

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Pour the gelatin mixture over the top evenly, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator to set, about 2 hours.

Final Assembly

IF USING CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FOR A RICHER CAKE:

When strawberry rhubarb gelatin has set, pulse the reserved strained fruit, two additional tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles a jam.  About 5 pulses.  In another bowl, make cream cheese frosting (recipe below).  Pour jam mixture into cream cream cheese frosting and mix on low until combined.  Spread over cake.  Top with reserved, sliced strawberries.  Cover completed cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready.

IF USING WHIPPING CREAM FROSTING FOR A LIGHTER CAKE:

When strawberry rhubarb gelatin has set, pulse the reserved strained fruit, two additional tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles a jam.  About 5 pulses.  Spread over cake.

Make whipping cream (recipe below) and spread over jam.  Top with sliced, reserved strawberries.  Cover completed cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter, unsalted

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla in a bowl on low speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Whipping Cream Frosting

2 tbsp. sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks.

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