Strawberries and Cream Cake

“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make -- bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake -- if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. "― Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

I might not go that far, but I will say that the first cake I made for this post was a disaster. Thus, the quote seemed fitting. I had tried to make a very large shortcake (lots of butter, less sugar) to no avail. The darned thing cracked in a million places and, frankly, was just too rich with all that cream on top. One thing I am, though, is tenacious and so I resolved to try this strawberries and cream cake thing again.

Besides, shortcakes are a dime a dozen. You can buy them in the supermarket in packets that are usually placed directly next to the berries. I wanted a cake cake. Something we could cut into and serve like a proper celebration sweet. This, I discovered, is not all that easy when one is using whipped cream! The trick, I found, was to fortify the cream with mascarpone (or cream cheese) and to make a cake I like all on its own. After the overgrown shortcake incident, it seemed fitting to use my favorite yellow cake recipe and build on that. From there, I knew I'd be okay because this buttermilk-based cake is so foolproof, I'm pretty sure my 5 year old could make it to great success.

The cake is delicious and the berries needed very little of anything. The cream came out lovely and not too sweet. The best part is the the result is pretty much a spring/summer explosion in the mouth. If you're looking to silence your crowd, look no further. 

In some ways, this cake is what my baking journey is all about. Finding trustworthy recipes that home cooks like myself can make successfully and then tweaking them to suit my - and your - fancy. I hope you make this one, add whatever suits your fancy to it and then tell me all about it in the comments!

xox,

A.

Strawberries and Cream Cake

Buttermilk Cake
Makes three 8" layers

1 C butter, at room temp
1-3/4 C sugar
3 C cake flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 large eggs, at room temp
2 t vanilla (or vanilla bean paste or the seeds from one vanilla bean)
1 C buttermilk (I used lowfat with great results)
Oven to 350. Butter and flour three 8" cake pans and set them aside. 
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then lightly whisk them together to blend. 
In your stand mixer (or a separate bowl), cream the butter on its own first until it's fluffy and lighter in color than when you started. Then, with the mixer running, slowly pour in the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes more, until the mixture is almost white and very pillowy.Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating them fully and scraping the sides of your bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat quickly. 
Alternating in 3 separate turns, add the flour and mix fully, then buttermilk and mix fully and so on.
Pour the batter into your pans, evenly distributing (as best you can) and bake for 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool fully - at least 2 hours at room temp or 45 minutes in the freezer.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Makes enough to fill 3 layers
8 oz. Mascarpone (or cream) cheese, cold (fridge temp is fine)
1/2 C white sugar
1 t vanilla
2 C heavy whipping cream, very cold

In your stand mixer with the whip attachment, whip the mascarpone or cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle the cream onto the cheese mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Gradually turn the mixer to high and whip the cream and cheese for 2-4 minutes or until stiff peaks stand in the cream when you run a spatula through it. It should be quite firm, like buttercream. If it's not, whip it some more until it is!

Sweet Spring Strawberries
1 qt. strawberries, washed and sliced
1/4 C sugar
1 t lemon juice from a fresh lemon

Gently toss all ingredients and leave covered in your bowl on the counter for 2 hours. The berries will macerate in the sugar and form a liquid. 

Building Your Cake

1. Place one layer of cake on a plate. Spread a thick layer of cream and a big spoonful of berries (if you have a slotted spoon, that's great because the more juice on the top, the more dramatic the cake looks). 
2. Repeat. 
3. For the third layer, do the same thing, but gently pour any remaining strawberry juice evenly over the top just before serving. It'll make nice waterfalls around your cake and add to the pretty!

If you have time, refrigerate the whole thing for 30-40 minutes before serving. If not, slice with the sharpest knife you've got. 

ENJOY!
 


4 comments

  1. This looks divine. And I have everything but the mascarpone here in the house. I know what I'm making this week!

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    1. Oh good! And I'm impressed that you've got almost everything in your house!

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  2. This cake looks epic!! It reminds me of a 'Victoria Sponge' something very popular here in the U.K. I found your blog the other night while visiting 'Brown Eyed Baker', you seemed to have the same problem as me with the 'chocolate pound cake' but just to let you know, I added a bit more boiling water and it turned out perfect : )
    I really like your openness and honesty in your posts and will now be a regular visitor.

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    Replies
    1. Faye,

      Welcome to the blog! So happy to have you here. Can't wait to get to know you better.

      xox,

      A.

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