More strawberries! Can you blame me? If there’s any time of the year to enjoy them, it’s right now. Maybe I’m especially craving them because of my lack of success with strawberry in the garden. I was so excited about the prospect of fresh strawberries that I bought not one, but two plants! I believe that so far they have yielded me 4-5 berries total. And I must say, they were some damn fine strawberries. But I want more! Luckily, I live close to several farmer’s markets. They might not be straight from my backyard, but they’re close enough.
This moist, delicious layer cake is full of flavor. I adapted a recipe from Sweetapolita (one of my many blog crushes) and couldn’t have been happier with the results. I did make a few changes, however. Since I’ve never used Jello-O or gelatin in a cake, I decided to omit it. Rosie says that strawberry gelatin adds great color and flavor, so I decided to ramp up the other ingredients, adding orange juice, zest and fresh strawberries in between the layers. I also added a bit potato starch, a trick I learned from Warren Brown’s CakeLove. For the frosting, I decided to use Italian meringue buttercream because, well, buttercream is awesome.
Adapted from Sweetapolita. Check out the original recipe for some great tips on perfectly sliced cake!
Strawberry Layer Cake
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: 3 x 8″ or 9″ cakes
- 1/4 cup strawberry puree, room temperature (made from fresh or frozen strawberries)
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- 3 ounces potato starch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- 12 ounces sugar
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- Thinly sliced strawberries for layering
- To make strawberry puree, simply place a handful of fresh or frozen strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth. Divide into 1/4 cup for the cake and 1/2 cup for the buttercream.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 3 cake pans. My method is to spray them with a baking spray that contains flour (I like Spectrum), then line them with a parchment round, and then lightly spray the parchment. You can use butter/shortening and flour if you prefer. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the puree, milk, vanilla, and orange juice.
- Sift together the flour, potato starch, baking powder, salt and zest.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Slow down the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl after each egg.
- Alternate between adding the wet and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry. Scrape down the bowl as needed and don’t over-mix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Use a kitchen scale if possible to ensure even layers. Spread the batter evenly with a small offset spatula. The original recipe was scaled for 8″ pans so if you’re using 9″ (like I did), the batter won’t reach the top of the pans. This is fine.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow them to cool for several minutes in the pan. Carefully invert onto a cooling rack or onto cardboard cake rounds lined with parchment (this is my preferred method). Allow to cool completely. Once cool, you can wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for two days, the refrigerator for five days, or the freezer for several months.
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Yield: slightly more than you’ll need for this cake. Freeze the leftover buttercream in a plastic baggie.
- 16 ounces sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon Karo corn syrup
- 6 ounces egg whites
- 20 ounces (5 sticks) butter, cubed at at room temperature
- 1/2 cup strawberry puree
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- optional: 1-2 drops red food coloring
- Add sugar and water to a medium sauce pot; stir briefly to combine. Use a wet thumb or paper towel to clean any excess sugar on the sides of the pot. Add the corn syrup, cover, and turn the heat to high.
- While the sugar is coming to a simmer, whisk the eggs on high in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Remove the cover from the sauce pot after some steam has formed. This prevents sugar crystallization. Cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F (use a candy thermometer).
- Turn the mixer speed down to medium and slowly (very slowly) pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the meringue. Don’t pour the syrup directly into the meringue or you’ll wind up with an egg white omelette.
- Once the syrup is incorporated, turn the speed up to high and allow the meringue to continue to form a stiff peak. Continue mixing on high until the mixture has reached room temperature. I place ice packs along the outside of the bowl to speed up the process, but this can still take 10-15 minutes.
- Once the meringue is room temperature, slowly begin incorporating the soft butter. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, add the strawberry puree, orange juice and food coloring.
- Place the first layer of cake on a revolving cake stand. I prefer to leave the bottom cake round in place so it’s easy to transfer the finished cake to a display stand (but remember to remove the parchment paper!).
- Spread approximately one cup of buttercream on top and spread it around evenly with an offset spatula. Layer thin strawberry slices on top of the buttercream. Top the strawberries with a bit more buttercream.
- Repeat with the second layer (remove the cake round this time).
- Place the 3rd layer on top. Frost with a thin layer of buttercream. Use an offset spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting to the sides, taking care to make sure the top and sides are even. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set this first layer of buttercream.
- Cover the entire cake with a final layer of frosting. For decoration, I used some fresh cream whipped with sugar and vanilla, topped with strawberries.