Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake
Adapted by The Moveable Feast

We're in the midst of a another hot and steamy summer.....ahh so nice. One of my favourite parts of summer is enjoying all the fresh berries that are available to us right now. They just never taste the same any other time of the year, do they? Strawberries are plentiful and so deliciously sweet this time of year. There is no better way to highlight this sweet berry is in this lovely cake. Cake, cream and fresh berries.....simple and simply divine. ;) Enjoy!

Serves 8 to 10

 1 1/4 cups cake flour
 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
 1 cup sugar
 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted a slightly cooled
 2 tablespoons water
 2 teaspoons vanilla
 zest of 1/2 lemon, grated

Strawberry Filling
 2 lbs fresh strawberries, washed, dried, and stemmed
 4-6 tablespoons sugar
 1 tablespoon Lemoncello or juice of 1/2 lemon
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 pinch of salt

Whipped Cream
 8 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
 1/2 cup sugar
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 pinch salt
 2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Butter and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans, and line with parchment or wax paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and about 1 cup + 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a medium-large bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and three yolks (reserve the whites!), the melted butter, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk until the batter is smooth and thick.

2. In a clean bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the reserved three egg whites at medium-low speed so that they get frothy and broken up a bit, about 1 or 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining three tablespoons of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes more. Take one-third of the beaten egg whites and fold it into the batter, to lighten it. Add the remaining beaten whites and gently fold until there aren’t any more white streaks and it’s pretty much evenly mixed. Pour the batter between the two prepared cake pans, dividing it evenly, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely (it’s necessary!), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the strawberry filling. Halve 24 of the best-looking strawberries in your bunch and reserve. These will be used to border the layers and decorate the top. In a medium bowl, quarter the remaining berries you have and toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons of sugar, depending on the sweetness and ripeness of your berries. You should have a mixture of a little more than 1 1/2 to 2 cups worth. Let this mixture sit for one hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Strain the juice from the  macerated berries (should be about 1/2 cup) and heat over medium high heat in a small saucepan with the addition of the vanilla and Lemoncello, if using, until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the macerated berries in a food processor and whir them for about 5 one second pulses. Alternatively, like I did, you could simply chop them up best you can with your knife–you’re just looking for a mushy strawberry filling mixture. Pour the reduced syrup over the chopped berries, add a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside.

5. When the cake has cooled, place the softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and the pinch of salt in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until fluffy and somewhat light, 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times throughout this process. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in a slow, steady stream. When it’s almost all the way combined, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 1 to 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl as you go. You should have around 4 to 5 cups, you will probably have extra.

6. To assemble the cake, Place one layer of the cake on a cake plate and arrange a ring of the reserved strawberry halves, cut side down and stems facing out, around the border of the cake. Pour about 1 cup of the berry mixture in the center. Spread mixture to cover any exposed cake, but be careful not to extend the mixture out too far so that it will spill over when you add the cream and other cake layer. Next, gently spread about 1 1/2 to 2 cups (or more to your liking) of the whipped cream over berry layer. This is a little difficult, because you want to be sure not to create an incorporated mush of the two parts. Leave a 1/2-inch border from the perimeter of the cake. Place next cake layer down and press gently so that the whipped cream layer should become “flush” with the cake edge. Add another 1 1/2 to 2 cups of whipped cream and spread to make an even layer on top. Decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill. This cake is best served the day of, but it’s doing fine holding up in our fridge at the moment, too

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