Strawberry and Cream Cake

I surprised K with a fancy cake that had absolutely no chocolate in it. I made it kind of on a whim. I was in the mood for a strawberry cake, and this cake basically tastes like strawberry shortcake. Besides wanting to enjoy the strawberries, I also wanted to try out some meringue powder I had bought. I ended up only using about 4 egg whites, and the rest of the egg whites in the buttercream came from the meringue powder.

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For meringue powder: Stir together 2 teaspoons meringue powder with 2 Tablespoons of warm water per egg white. It worked really well. In fact, when I made the buttercream again, but halved it, I still ended up tossing in a bit of the powder to make up the half egg white, as well as help with the structure. I found that this buttercream is really easy to work with and use for decorating. I was able to play around a lot more than with other frosting recipes I have used.

I had fun, can you tell?

I had fun, can you tell?

Directions for Strawberry and Cream Cake

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Make the strawberry curd first

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vodka
  • Pinch of salt

Toss the berries with the sugar and allow to sit for one hour, stirring occasionally.

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Drain the berries, saving the juice. In a small saucepan, bring the berry juice and vodka to a simmer, and allow to cook until it thickens.

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Meanwhile, pulse the berries in a food processor until smooth.

Waiting to process

Waiting to process

Stir together the processed berries, thickened juice, and salt. Refrigerate while making the cakes and during the cake cooling time (at least 2-3 hours).

After chilling

After chilling

Make the Vanilla Cake second (see pictures here)

  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces (1.75 cups) cake flour
  • 10.5 ounces (1.5 cups) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray and parchment circles lining the bottoms.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. In your mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With your mixer on medium-low, beat the butter into the flour, one piece at a time. Continue mixing until the texture looks like moist crumbs (about 3 minutes total, including the time for adding the butter).

Turn the mixer to low, then stir in all but ½ cup of the milk mixture. Turn the speed up to medium-low and eventually to medium once you are past the “splash” stage. Continue beating for a couple minutes until the batter becomes smooth and fluffy. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the sugar/etc. is incorporated. Turn the mixer back to low once the batter is fluffy and add the rest of the milk mixture, stirring for just about 15-30 seconds.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, after making sure everything is combined. Tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter, and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs (super important with cakes!). This could take 20 minutes, or up to 30-40 if your oven is like mine. Rotate the pans halfway during baking.

Let the cakes cool in the pans 10 minutes before flipping them out. Remove the parchment, then turn right-side up again. Let cool about 2 hours before preparing for frosting.

– Make the vanilla buttercream last

  • 9 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 10.5 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 sticks butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

Whisk the egg whites in a mixer on medium speed for a couple minutes until frothy.

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Then, heat the water and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 238 degrees F.

Starting off...

Starting off…

While the water and sugar are heating, continue whisking the eggs. This will take about 5 minutes.

IMG_6989

This is 238 degrees F.

This is 238 degrees F.

Turn the mixer to low and pour the hot sugar mixture directly into the egg whites, being careful to avoid splatters. Once poured, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until the bowl is no longer warm (about 8-10 minutes).

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Reduce the mixer speed to add the vanilla and salt. On medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time.

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Then increase the speed to medium-high until the mixture is smooth.

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The mixture might look curdled, but if you take a spatula and pull it through and it smooths out, you are fine. You can use the buttercream now to frost your cake, or refrigerate it (or freeze it).

You can also have fun with food dyes, like I did.

You can also have fun with food dyes, like I did.

Decorating Portion (aka, lots of Cake Pictures):

You want to layer the vanilla buttercream with the strawberry curd. You can do this however you like. You will see in the pictures that I mixed it up on each level just to see what we preferred. The husband liked the first layer (bottom) the best because it had the most strawberry. Do what you like! I sliced the layers in half to have a 4-layer cake. You can just do a regular 2-layer instead, but you will have leftover frosting and curd. (You could also halve those recipes.)

2013-05-08

Working on the sides

Working on the sides

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Directions for Strawberry and Cream Cake (without pictures)

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

– Make the strawberry curd first

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vodka
  • Pinch of salt

Toss the berries with the sugar and allow to sit for one hour, stirring occasionally. Drain the berries, saving the juice. In a small saucepan, bring the berry juice and vodka to a simmer, and allow to cook until it thickens. Meanwhile, pulse the berries in a food processor until smooth. Stir together the processed berries, thickened juice, and salt. Refrigerate while making the cakes and during the cake cooling time (at least 2-3 hours).

– Make the Vanilla Cake second (see pictures here)

  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces (1.75 cups) cake flour
  • 10.5 ounces (1.5 cups) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray and parchment circles lining the bottoms.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. In your mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With your mixer on medium-low, beat the butter into the flour, one piece at a time. Continue mixing until the texture looks like moist crumbs (about 3 minutes total, including the time for adding the butter).

Turn the mixer to low, then stir in all but ½ cup of the milk mixture. Turn the speed up to medium-low and eventually to medium once you are past the “splash” stage. Continue beating for a couple minutes until the batter becomes smooth and fluffy. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the sugar/etc. is incorporated. Turn the mixer back to low once the batter is fluffy and add the rest of the milk mixture, stirring for just about 15-30 seconds.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, after making sure everything is combined. Tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter, and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs (super important with cakes!). This could take 20 minutes, or up to 30-40 if your oven is like mine. Rotate the pans halfway during baking.

Let the cakes cool in the pans 10 minutes before flipping them out. Remove the parchment, then turn right-side up again. Let cool about 2 hours before preparing for frosting.

Make the vanilla buttercream last

  • 9 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 10.5 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 sticks butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

Whisk the egg whites in a mixer on medium speed for a couple minutes until frothy. Then, heat the water and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 238 degrees F. While the water and sugar are heating, continue whisking the eggs. This will take about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and pour the hot sugar mixture directly into the egg whites, being careful to avoid splatters. Once poured, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until the bowl is no longer warm (about 8-10 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed to add the vanilla and salt. On medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time. Then increase the speed to medium-high until the mixture is smooth. The mixture might look curdled, but if you take a spatula and pull it through and it smooths out, you are fine. You can use the buttercream now to frost your cake, or refrigerate it (or freeze it).

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8 thoughts on “Strawberry and Cream Cake

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