Friday, April 9, 2010

Strawberry Cream Cake, version 2

Strawberry Cream Cake

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.

Strawberry Cream Cake
Strawberry Cream Cake

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.


oneordinaryday said...

I understand what you mean. I don't like to post photos I'm not happy with either, but I have to say your cake looks gorgeous. I love that cookbook but I haven't tried this particular cake yet. All those strawberries and that cream. Yum!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I am so glad that you decided to post your photos anyway-- for one, they got my attention. I am watching our locally grown Driscoll berries ripen as I drive by them every day. I'm waiting for the peak of ripeness so I can dive into making a cake-- without those gross shortcakes that mimic twinkies in plastic at the local grocer. Know what I mean? This is the cake recipe, and I thank you! I made your strawberry scones, last year, and loved them. Bookmarked and thank you!

Irene said...

Oh yeah, this is nothing like those shortcakes! This is a lovely cake, firm but soft and just right for strawberries. Thinking about it now makes me hungry... :)

Chanel11 said...

It really sucks when for some reason the photos just don't turn out right - but if the recipe is sooo good then you just have to put it up - and I'm glad you did because it looks delicious.

Cherine said...

Your cake looks beautiful & delicious!

symphonious sweets said...

I think your photo looks really good. Good enough for me to click your link and bookmark this recipe for when the local berries arrive! I love Sky High. Such an awesome cook book!

The Caked Crusader said...

Strawberries work so well with sponge - I love the look of this cake and am very impressed at the writing on top!

Manggy said...

Is that the picture of the cake you were convinced wasn't good? It looks phenomenal! I just recently re-made the strawberry bavarian cake from Tartine for my grandmother - the flavors come together just so pleasantly.

Ash said...

I have this cook book too! Love it!!
I once made a cake like this, two words... damn good.

veron said...

I think your photo is gorgeous, this sure makes my mouth water!

Michele@dizzygirlbakes said...

I think your photo looks great and the cake looks yummy. I may have to make this for my hubby as he loves strawberries.

merrilymarylee said...

Thank you for doing your duty and posting this. Now I'LL be thinking about it!

I love finding a good vanilla cake recipe.

Jessica @ The Cooking Chick said...

With strawberries being a 'super food' and the lightness of the sponge cake - its almost a guilt free dessert!

The Food Librarian said...

I'm so glad you posted this! It looks so tasty! Plus it give us a chance to say Happy Anniversary to your folks!!! - mary

Dinners and Dreams said...

This is such a gorgeous cake. I have a birthday coming up in the family. I could totally make this cake and eat it too.


DB said...

I need to find an excuse to make now! it looks soooooo good!

Patty said...

I think your photographs are fantastic! And certainly making my mouth water! Delicious cake and definitely going on my to-do-in-the-kitchen list. Also, congratulations to your parents! 32 years? That is absolutely a serious milesone!

Ingrid said...

Your mom sounds like my kinda lady. Sneaky when it comes to dessert! Your cake looks gorgeous and your photos just fine. They certainly don't take anyting away from the cake.

Emily said...

I just made this cake today and I not only have a beautiful strawberry cream cake to show off to my family but also my new favorite vanilla cake recipe! I changed it just a litle bit by macerating the chopped strawberries in a little bit of almond extract and a teaspoon of sugar, using an almond infused simple syrup in place of the rum and water, and decorating the top with a few toasted, chopped almonds. I was a little worried that i had maybe overdone the almond but it turned out beautifully! Thank you so much for this recipe!

Irene said...

Great! I'm so glad you liked it! The almonds are a wonderful idea, I'm totally going to do that next time!

Reservation said...

i'll try this coming tuesday for my sister birthday 18 May...
i'lll give you an update if she will like it....

Vanilla and Honey said...

So glad you posted this cake! Your pictures looked very sincere and very sweet. What a nice memory!
BTW-are you blogging somewhere else, or did you stop blogging? I love your writing and your spin on life. And I just had a baby-and I love the baby pics too.