Looking for the best classic old-fashioned cream cheese frosting for your holiday cake? We’ve got you covered in vintage cake style. And how about a holiday cake filling made with cranberries, strawberries and buttercream, oh yeah! Pure white elegance with a sweet pink double berry filling.
These 2 recipes for frosting and filling are presented together because we’re going to steal a little of the frosting for our strawberry-cranberry cake filling…just like grandma did to get that luscious blending of decadent home-style cake. Our Holiday Cake Frosting recipe is made from luscious cream cheese, vanilla, butter and sugar and our Berry-Berry Filling is made of fresh cranberry sauce stirred together with strawberry bits and a heaping hunk ‘a frosting.
When the cake is sliced open at the holiday dessert table, you just wait for the oohs and ahhs to come raining down on you in all your vintage cake glory. The frosting spreads like heaven-on-earth and the cake that goes with it is light and simple.
Holiday reflections: If the holidays mean heading to the old family home front to gather with family and friends this season, you might find yourself away from home without a computer (heavens!)..or, at least, without a good internet connection. Ha! If so, we’re hoping you might consider yourself lucky and find some time to carve away during the holiday season to bring on the slow. As in: SLOW — BRING IT ON! Chatting up your relatives in fine conversation. Taking a stroll through your old neighborhood. Playing catch with the kids on the lawn. Going for a little bike ride. Grabbing your favorite classic to re-read, or your favorite vintage cookbook as the case may be, and pulling up a chair by the fireside. Or maybe even baking a nice homemade vintage cake.
Using old recipes: Our vintage cake recipes are collected from hundreds, if not thousands, of vintage cake recipes, always starting from our own private collection of great-grandmother and grandmother recipes first and then moving out from there. Then they are triple tested. Why? Because when you start your recipe reading funny phrases like “use a hot iron to scorch the sugar” or “measure out the sugar with an egg-shell” (for real!) you have to do a little second guessing. But it’s so fun reading these precious old recipes and finding little gems that just might work for modern urban baking…or modern country baking, either way.
Okay, enough of this reflecting on the holidays and old recipes, it’s time to get to work with a fun baking project. We’re going to whip up a classic vintage frosting and cake filling– and here we go…Oh, but first…
Slow Cooking Warning: The Berry-Berry Filling recipe is created in small part from a lovely little homemade jellied cranberry salad recipe that is pre-made at least the day prior. Although you can use a canned product, we highly recommend this double-duty recipe for both your holiday buffet table menu and for use in the Berry-Berry Filling. You WILL notice the difference a homemade jellied cranberry sauce brings to the cake filling, believe it or not (especially since it has vanilla and little bits of orange and lemon zest in it and it’s a tad sweeter than whole cranberry versions — AND it contains no gelatin so your vegetarian friends will like that). It is simple to make ahead of time — but factor in some slow cooking time for vintage perfection.
Cream Cheese Buttercream Holiday Cake Frosting: A traditional cream cheese buttercream frosting for the River House Whipped Cream Cake that withstands the test of time…
Tools Needed for Frosting:
Large mixing bowl
Small bowl (for bringing ingredients to room temperature on the counter or in the microwave)
Spatula (for getting all the goodness from the bowls)
Measuring cups and spoons
Sifter (optional, for powdered sugar — I didn’t use one )
Cream Cheese Buttercream Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality
Place in small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for just a few seconds to bring to “chilled room temperature” (I invented that phrase) so that it is not-cold-rock-hard* but able to be beat with a blender:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
*Note: I invented that phrase too. (okay, sorry, back to business)
In a medium bowl, beat on high until light and fluffy (about 1 to 2 minutes):
the softened cream cheese
Beat in slowly, one cup at a time
2 cups (out of the 4 cups total) powdered sugar
Beat in on low-speed until just blended:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Beat in slowly, one cup at a time
2 cups (the final 2 cups) powdered sugar
Microwave for just a few seconds to take the chill off of:
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter
Beat in the butter with the cream cheese on high-speed until fully incorporated and fluffy.
Beat in until fully mixed and wonderfully fluffy:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The final frosting is lovely and thick and rich…
Okay, done with the luscious frosting.
Now, since we’re going to steal some of our frosting for our Berry-Berry Filling, let’s move to the next little kitchen project….
It’s time for pink, sweet and delicious, with little bits of fruit…the Berry-Berry Filling for the Riverhouse Whipped Cream Cake. This recipe is simple, fresh and luscious. I think you’re going to love it. The cranberry sauce used here is a little extra sweet so this is a sweet filling without the sour tang of standard cranberry fare.
Berry-Berry Filling (Cranberry-Strawberry Buttercream):
Tools Needed for Berry-Berry Filling:
Paper towels (for drying off the strawberries)
2 Medium mixing bowls
Dinner plate (for working the strawberry bits)
Small sifter or strainer (for sprinkling powdered sugar)
Small knife (for dicing strawberries and slicing molded cranberry sauce)
Mini food processor (optional, for puree’ing the cranberry sauce)
Spatula (for mixing cranberry sauce with frosting)
Ingredients for Berry-Berry Filling:
about 2 dozen fresh ripe strawberries, diced, drained and patted dry (alternative: fancy whole frozen strawberries, thawed, drained and patted dry)
1 to 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
1/4 cup molded homemade cranberry sauce (alternative: store-bought whole-berry cranberry sauce that has been pureed or well-mashed and chilled)
3/4 cup Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (see recipe above)
Directions for Berry-Berry Filling:
Start with fresh strawberries. Uh oh! SOMEBODY left the strawberries back home in Los Angeles (okay. me.). We’re lucky to “make do” with frozen (fancy, whole) strawberries found in the river house back freezer. whew! They need to be thawed and carefully patted dry with paper towels. In fact, carefully dry even the fresh strawberries by blotting them with paper towels before and after they’re chopped because they get juicy and we don’t want more water or juice in the frosting.
Dice strawberries into small cubes, then drain and pat dry (again).
(You don’t have to be as messy as me but what the heck – messy baking is fun too! )
Using a small sifter or strainer, sprinkle the strawberries with:
about 1 to 2 Tablespoon of powdered sugar
Puree in a mini blender for less than a minute until nicely smooth:
1/4 cup from a molded homemade cranberry sauce (see recipe HERE)
Tip: It won’t be as vibrant but you’ve been forewarned but you can substitute chilled canned jellied or whole cranberry sauce to puree. And if you don’t have a food processor, get out a fork and start MASHING. It’ll be fine.
Scrape every little bit of the pureed cranberry sauce into a medium bowl.
Beat into the cranberry sauce on high for about 1 minute until light and fluffy:
3/4 cup Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (using frosting from the recipe above)
Tip: We calculated out this portion-stealing so you’ll still have enough left to frost the outer cake after you steal away this frosting for the filling.
Using a spatula, gently mix diced strawberries into the cranberry-frosting mixture, then gently fold in the diced prepared strawberry bits.
Now then, we’ll prepare the Riverhouse Whipped Cream Cake for the big dessert event…
Collect up your cooled cakes…
Or, in our case, we’ll take ours from the back of the truck (ha!) where we left them wrapped up tight in the cold winter weather for extra holiday storage.
Slice any mound from the top of the BOTTOM LAYER of the River House Whipped Cream Cake cake. The top layer should be left in it’s “original” cake state.
Place a bit of the frosting into a baggie (I used quart-size because that’s all we had) and cut off the tip to use as a piping bag…or use your trusty piping bag if you have one with you (we didn’t).
Pipe one ring of white Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting around the rim of the bottom cake.
Tip: This is an optional move (called a Frosting Border by my professional cake baker friends) but it will prevent the pink filling from making its way into the lovely white frosted sides of the cake. Don’t make the rim as big and wide as mine (so that the filling can run farther out to the sides of the cake — this worked much better than I expected and I found a thinner border would have been better ).
Now return the extra frosting from the piping baggie to the frosting bowl (I’m saying this ’cause I nearly forgot) and spoon the Berry-Berry Filling onto bottom cake layer to the edge of the frosting “fence”. Isn’t it perty??
Set the second cake (in natural style without the baking hump slice away) and frost top and sides.
Tip: This is a crumbly cake (and the crumb layer is too delicious to brush or peel away) so be careful not to touch the cake with the frosting knife or (though I didn’t “crumb coat” it first) you may give it a light layer of frosting, refrigerate it for 15 to 30 minutes and then frost it as you would normally to prevent crumb issues (this is called crumb coating a cake, as you likely know). But remember, it’s okay to see crumbs because that reminds us that it is a homemade delicacy.
Frosting over the sides tip: We love the taste of the light crumb crust that covers this cake so we left it on but you have to coat the cake with a nice, thick layer of frosting over the edges and then smooth it down so that you don’t catch too many crumbs along the way.
Now you have yourself a merry little Christmas cake with a festive splash of holiday colors and tastes created from and prepared in old-fashioned style that we think you will be proud to serve your family and honored guests.
Thank you for joining us on this vintage cake baking tour!
I hope you’ll come back soon.
And I hope you’ve enjoyed these recipes — and I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section and on our Facebook page. You guys are awesome!
- River House Whipped Cream Cake Recipe (bakethiscake.com)
- Homemade Holiday Molded Cranberry Sauce Recipe (bakethiscake.com)
- Italian Sour Cream Cheesecake for the Italian Lovesong Cake (bakethiscake.com)