Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake

Nothing makes me more excited about the Spring than vibrant fresh fruits, like strawberries and mangos.  I was inspired to bake this cake after my friend, Yasir, requested it from my innovation project, Krimi Sweets.  This cake is super easy and fast to assemble.  The cake base isn’t tricky itself, and the frosting isn’t temperamental either.

 

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It’s a snowy, white layer cake, with a strawberry whipped cream filling, and whipped cream cheese frosting.  Absolutely delicious!  I really despise cakes that are artificially flavored with packs of jello.  Why not take the time to add fresh fruits into the cake itself?  The cake is moist, with a tender and fine crumb.  The whipped cream filling isn’t too sweet, and is tart and full of strawberry flavor.  And the frosting on top?  It’s my new favorite.

I think I’ve finally mastered cream cheese frosting.  I’ve always had a problem with cream cheese frosting.  Either my cream cheese is always too soft to work with, or my butter ends up creating lumps in the frosting.  It’s just a nightmare to work with.  Yet, I love the taste of cream cheese frosting so I had to try again.  And yesterday was the day!  I took out the butter, added heavy cream to make it ultra fluffy, and created magic in the bowl of my stand mixer.  The cream cheese is so fluffy, with a tart notes from the cheese and the varying levels of sweetness that balance out the cheese flavor.

The white cake recipe is probably one of the easiest cake recipes out there.  I found this recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated, Baking Illustrated Cookbook. I love this cookbook.  It’s been fine tuned by the chefs at America’s Test Kitchen.  Each recipe has explanations about the origins, each experiment, and why the written recipe is the best.  I trust all the recipes in this cookbook because I know it’s been tested hundreds of times.  Also, there’s a never ending list of recipes in the book.  It’s filled with breads, cakes, pies, pastries and everything in between.  Plus, the preface to the recipes has tested ingredients to work with and tools and equipment that have been rated by the Test Kitchen as well.  Now, I’d have to say the white cake is divine. Baking white cake at home is as difficult as tempering chocolate to make candy.   I never seem to get as good results as boxed mixes that my family uses, or by professional bakeries.  Either the cake has too large and uneven crumbs, or it’s not moist and so dry.  The recipe uses the high-ratio cake method, which is a little different from conventional cake recipes. (I’ll explain in a later post) But this time, the flavor is fantastic and the texture, it’s fine and moist and just so velvety.  It’s a true white vanilla cake.

I got the idea for the whipped strawberry filling after eating a delicious chocolate cake from 85 Degrees Bakery in California.  Although the chocolate cake was extremely moist and light, the filling was horrendous.  I don’t know why, but the bakers there decided to fill the cream with whole strawberries instead of nicely dicing them up.  It ruined the fine and delicate texture of the cake and it was horrible to try and cut the strawberries with a plastic fork that I had at the party.  I decided to dice the strawberries out.  And this way, the strawberries are left, exposed into the whipped cream.  They are able to extract their juices into the cream itself for a delicious flavor. This cake is perfect to bring to a summer picnic, or to someone’s birthday cake.  There is nothing that you won’t enjoy in this cake.

White Cake Recipe (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients For 2 9-inch cake layers

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Ingredients Enough to generously frost 2 9-inch cake layers, plus a little extra 

  • 2 sticks of full fat, cream cheese (16 ounces), a little bit colder than room temperature (softened, but still cool and firm)

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups of cold, heavy whipping cream

Strawberry Whipped Cream Ingredients Yields 2 cups of strawberry whipped cream

  • 1 cup of cold, heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of diced strawberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

To make the layer cake:

1.  Position your rack in the middle of the oven, as this results in the most even baking.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 9-inch cake rounds with parchment paper and spray them with non-stick cooking oil.

2.  In a 2 cup measuring cup, pour in the egg whites, milk, and vanilla extract.  Stir with a fork until well blended.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, (or another bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), mix together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed.  Add in butter, and continue beating until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the milk and egg white mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer.  Beat this at medium speed for about 1 and 1/2 minutes.  Add the rest of the milk, and beat on high for about 30 seconds more. Stop the mixer, and scrape the sides.  Finally, beat on high for a remaining 20 seconds just to make sure everything is combined.

5.  Divide the batter evenly between 2 cake pans.  Bake the cake layers for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean! Before removing the cake layers from the pan, let them rest for about 3 minutes, as freshly baked cake is very delicate and will tear easily.  After letting them rest, invert the layers onto wire racks to finish the cooling process.

To make the strawberry whipped cream:

1.  Place the bowl of a stand mixer, (or any other bowl that you’re using), and a whisk attachment in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  This allows the whipped cream to reach it’s fullest volume.  Also, it dramatically decreases the whipping time.

2.  Simply, put the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla into the stand mixer bowl.   Whisk on low speed, and gradually increase the speed to high.  Beat the cream until soft peaks form.  If you over beat the cream, it might turn into butter!  Nonetheless, just add some more heavy cream, and continue beating until soft peaks form.

3.  Once the cream is whipped to your desired consistency, fold in the diced strawberries with a spatula.  Refrigerate until needed.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese  until fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth.

2.  Switch to a whisk attachment.  Gradually add heavy cream, and whip until the frosting is thick and fluffy enough to spread.

To assemble:
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Start out with 2, cooled cake layers.   Let the thicker layer be the bottom, as it gives the cake more support.  Place the first layer on a cake board.

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Begin piling mounds of the whipped strawberry filling on top of the first layer. Using an angled spatula, begin spreading the filling out until it just hits almost the edge of the cake.DSCN3729

The last thing you want happen is to have strawberry filling dripping out the middle of the cake, so be careful not to overfill!DSCN3730 DSCN3731 DSCN3732

Place the second layer atop the cake.  Lightly press down to apply initial pressure to the filling.  I find that this way, the filling doesn’t spread out as much as I frost the cake because I’ve already flattened it out. DSCN3735DSCN3736

Take a big dallop of cream cheese frosting and start piling on the top of the cake.  It’s better to start out with more frosting than less because that way, you won’t accidentally scrape the cake with your spatula and tear crumbs all over your frosting!   Using an angled spatula, begin spreading the frosting out to the sides of the cake in a continuous motion.  The more you lift up your spatula, the more ridges you’ll get. Slightly angling the spatula with one hand, and rotating the cake board with your other hand, I find gives the smoothest look on my cake.   Once you have your top frosted, feel free to begin frosting the sides.  The sides are much easier to frost.  Again, get as much frosting on the sides as possible to cover them off.  Then, angle your spatula slightly, and rotate the cake board to remove any excess frosting and smooth all the imperfections out.  As you can see, I got quite bored and decided to pipe some roses atop the face of my cake. DSCN3739

To pipe the boarders on my cake, I’m using the 2D tip from Wilton.  You can use any open star, or closed star tip you’d like.DSCN3737

 

I thinly sliced some strawberries to go around the edges of my cake.  Because we’re making a strawberry cake, I wanted a  more obvious strawberry theme for the design.  And, the strawberries conveniently cover any mistakes you have in your frosting!DSCN3745 DSCN3743

Basically, the cake is your pearl.  You can design it any way, you’d like.  Here, I’m just piping simple scalloped edges, and I’m lining the top edges with strawberries.DSCN3741DSCN3742

 

 

And here is the final product!DSCN3751

 

A simple, wonderful, and certainly delicious fresh strawberry cake.   The cake is the perfect texture to be a birthday cake, and is slightly sweet and tart at the same time, which in my opinion, is perfect with the approaching warmer seasons.

Please comment any requests for recipes you have down below.

As always, good luck, and Happy Baking!

-Kristie xx

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