This is my go to cake during strawberry season. I made it for myself for Mother’s day and my Mother-In-Law requested this cake for her birthday this year. The combination of fresh, sweet strawberries, light as air whipped cream frosting and a tender vanilla cake just tastes like happiness. Assuming happiness had a taste, this is what happiness would taste like.
Let’s start with the VANILLA CAKE:
2 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Buttermilk*
3 large eggs
1 cup of sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a 1 cup measure container. Fill the rest of the 1 cup with 1% or 2% milk. Give it a good stir and let it rest on the counter top for at least 10 minutes. The milk may look lumpy and that is a good thing.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. It is good to have an oven thermometer handy to check the accuracy of your oven.
Line 4-8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and coat the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
PREPARATION TIP: I only own 2-8 inch pans, but I borrowed two pans from my Mother-In-Law. If you find that you can only come across two pans, there are two options for you to choose from to get a four layer cake.
- Bake 2 cakes, let them cool for about 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the pan, clean the pans, reline the pans with parchment and nonstick spray then bake the last two cakes. Keep the batter in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake the second batch of cakes. Cooking time for the cakes will remain the same as this recipe.
- The second option is to divide the batter evenly amongst the two pans and then bake. Once the cakes are cooled, cut each cake in half horizontally. This step is best achieved if the cakes are very cold. Once the cakes have completely cooled, cover each cake tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours up to overnight. The cold cake is a sturdy cake and will be easier to halve. Additional cooking time is needed for the cakes in this option. Add another 10-20 minutes to the time and check every so often for doneness. I have found this option has a tendency to dry out the cake.
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer with a beater attachment, stir the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. While the mixer is on medium speed, pour in the oil and the buttermilk. As soon as the ingredients come together, turn the mixer up to medium high and add the eggs one at a time. Beat on medium high until each egg has been incorporated.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the sour cream and vanilla to the bowl. Turn the mixer on high for about 1 minute.
Evenly distribute the batter amongst the prepared cake pans. You should have about 8 cups of batter.
Place the pans in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Stick the toothpick into the center of each cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, free from wet batter, your cakes are done. Add a few minutes time if necessary.
Let the cakes cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them continue to cool completely on the racks.
MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING:
I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled across this particular recipe. It may have come from a Southern Living website. It was my girlfriend’s baby shower many years ago that had me on the search for the perfect whipped cream frosting. For dessert they served a strawberry cake very similar to the one in this blog post. I took some time savoring every bite to determine what I needed to recreate the elegance of that frosting. It took me several failures and many tests before I found the one that compared to the baby shower cake. This became my favorite whipped cream frosting.
1-8 ounce container of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup of granulated sugar, divided in half
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Place a medium sized metal mixing bowl and the beaters to a hand mixer in the freezer for about 1 hour. This step will ensure your cream will go from runny to a luscious whipped texture.
In a large bowl, fold the mascarpone cheese and 1/3 cup of sugar together.
Pull the metal mixing bowl and beaters from the freezer and pour in the whippng cream, 1/3 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat on high until you get a nice rich looking whipped cream.
Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
Fold in another 1/3 of whipped cream. Then finish the frosting with the last of the whipped cream.
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM CAKE CONSTRUCTION:
2 pints of fresh strawberries, cleaned, stemmed and halved
4 layers of vanilla cake
1 batch of mascarpone whipped cream frosting
Start with one layer of vanilla cake, spread a thin layer of the frosting onto the cake and top with the sliced strawberries. Spread a touch more frosting over the strawberries.
Build the second and third floor of your cake by repeating the steps you took in the first.
Top off the cake with the last layer of vanilla cake. Spread the remaining frosting over the entire cake and dress it up with a few whole or sliced strawberries.
Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve.