There are so many people in my husband’s family (including my husband) that have birthdays in July, that they have a big combined celebration each year. We go to his aunt and uncle’s house on a lake, where people can kayak, fish, and enjoy the scenery. His uncle cooks some normal food, and then insists on adding something a little outside the ordinary each year – pig’s feet, fried local bluegill, limburger cheese, etc. Everyone else brings sides and appetizers.
His aunt is in charge of ice cream. She has one of those old fashioned ice cream makers, where you put in rock salt and crank until your arms fall off. It’s a great activity for keeping the kids occupied.
Since it’s a birthday celebration, I decided this year that we should have cake with our ice cream, like any good birthday party. I’ve made several variations on white cake with filling this year, so I was bored with that, and my husband isn’t a fan of chocolate. He already had clementine cupcakes on his official birthday, so something else fruity and summery was in order.
I landed on Strawberries and Cream Cake. A fresh strawberry and vanilla layer cake, filled with sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream, covered with my favorite vanilla buttercream.
It was a huge hit. I didn’t even bring any home.
It also reminded me that I hate my square cake pans. First, they are non-stick, and I have become a fan of the even heating of pure aluminum bakeware. With the nonstick I tend to get puffy centers and too-done edges. They are also 9-inch square pans, which means they are too large for most cake recipes, and I end up with thin layers. This also adds to the too-done edge issue. An 8-inch square pan is a more appropriate substitute for recipe designed for a 9-inch round. I definitely need to work on getting some nice 8-inch square aluminum cake pans.
This recipe is supposed to make three 9-inch round or two 8-inch square cake pans. Since I had larger square pans, I made two layers, and used the extra batter for mini cupcakes for another occasion. I sliced the two layers into four, so I could have more awesome filling and a taller cake.
Fresh Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 drops red food dye, if you want it to be really pink
Grease two 8″ square cake pans, or three 9″ round cake pans with butter. Cover the bottom of each with a parchment round, and butter the parchment. Dust the buttered pans with flour and tap to remove excess.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Whisk together the milk, egg whites and extract in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the food coloring if desired.
Mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the butter, beating at low speed until you get moist crumbs with no large clumps. Add the strawberry puree and mix until combined.
Add 1/3 of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the additional milk mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Do not overbeat.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Fill with Strawberries and Cream Filling and frost with Italian Meringue Buttercream.
Strawberries and Cream Filling
I split my cake into 4 layers, requiring more whipped cream. If you are using fewer layers, you can only use half of this recipe.
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a chilled metal bowl, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sugar and extracts, and continue beating until medium-stiff peaks form.
Place a layer of strawberries on the bottom layer of the cake, and spread whipped cream over the fruit. Place next layer on top, and repeat with additional layers.