Friday, April 9, 2010
Let me tell it to you straight. I wasn't going to show you this cake because I didn't think the pictures turned out well. Stupid reason, right? For a whole month, my vanity held me back, but then I realized that every time I thought about this cake, my mouth watered and I gave a little contented sigh, which means that I have a DUTY to tell you about it. Simply put, this cake is an Oh-My-God-Where-Have-You-Been-All-My-Life kind of a cake. Three gorgeous layers of the fluffiest, the sweetest, the most delicious vanilla butter cake I've ever had, and it's soaked with a rum simple syrup and then filled with like two pounds of tart, juicy strawberries and lots and lots of pillowy, sweet whipped cream. You must, one day, make it. In fact, I think that day should be tomorrow.
When the whole thing comes together, it's pretty much the most awesome thing ever. It's tall and beautiful, it has sweetness from the cake and tartness from the strawberries, with the whipped cream cushioning all that lovely, fragrant, cakey goodness. And then there's the rum - it's kind of subtle, but with enough time for the flavors to meld, it gets into everything, strawberries, whipped cream and all, and it's just boozy enough to make it feel like dessert is the most important course of the entire meal (IT IS). I made this for my parent's 32nd anniversary (go Mom and Dad!!!) and my mom actually hid a giant slice in the refrigerator from her guests so she could have a piece all to herself. Sneaky, mom! But necessary, as it turned out, because all those guests who were all, "oh, no dessert for me, thank you, I'm on a diet," apparently decided to give their diets the night off. There was not a crumb or a smudge of whipped cream left.
Strawberry Cream Cake
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake from Sky High Cakes
Makes three 8", 9" or 10" round layers or two 9x13" layers (I made mine 10" round, so I could build in a springform pan)
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 lb strawberries
2 cups of heavy cream + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup rum
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350C and butter the cake pans well.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and 1 cup of buttermilk and with the mixer on low, blend together to moisten the batter. Then, on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and the egg yolks, the vanilla and 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a bowl and add to the batter in 3 additions, mixing only until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter between your pans. NOTE: The recipe anticipates that you will have the requisite number of cake pans (i.e., three round 8", 9" or 10" pans or two 9x13" pans). Having a 90 sq. ft. kitchen, I only own one cake pan of each size, so I had to bake each layer separately. The cake batter hung out on the counter while I did this and seemed to do just fine.
Bake the layers for 28-32 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. If the cake layers have domed, trim them with a sharp bread knife.
Prepare the strawberries:
Reserve 18 whole strawberries out of the 2 lbs. Chop the rest into small pieces. Out of the 18, take six and cut them in half with the green part still on. Hull and halve the other 12.
Whip the heavy cream with the sugar until it holds stiff peaks (but do not overbeat because it will be hard to spread). Combine water and rum together.
Assemble the cake:
Line the sides of a cake ring or a springform pan with plastic, so there is some overhang. Put one cake layer inside and, with a spoon or a pastry brush, soak the cake layer with one third of the rum/water mixture. Set the halved strawberries around the sides of the cake, placing them cut side down and wide end pressed against the sides of the pan. Spread half the chopped strawberries inside. Spread a little less than half of the whipped cream on top of the strawberries.
Place the second layer on top and press gently to distribute the whipped cream evenly. Repeat the soaking/strawberries/whipped cream steps. Place the third layer on top of the second one and again press gently to distribute the filling. Soak with the remaining rum, frost the top with the remaining whipped cream and decorate with the halved strawberries that still have the tails on. This cake needs at least 4-5 hours for the flavors to meld.