With layers of tender, moist yellow cake sandwiched between a double dose of strawberries – fresh strawberry buttercream and strawberry jam, this is the kind of confection that dreams are made of!
You’re probably not like this, but I don’t always have the most pristine intentions.
A good example of this occurred every year on my birthday, back when our kids were growing up. To help this story make sense, there’s one thing you need to understand about me – it’s the fact that I love, as in LOVE, a really good cake. To be honest, I can pass right by the majority of cakes. But you put a tender, moist, buttery cake, (the kind that comes from a really, fine bakery) in front of me and… well, let’s just say I’m like a little piggy in mud.
So back to the story, and the not-so-pristine-intentions. We had a small gourmet bakery not far from our home in those days called The Coterie. That little bakery turned out the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted, the kind of cakes every bride dreams of for her wedding. Every year on my birthday, Scott would walk in the door with a big, white cardboard box from The Coterie and I’d shriek with delight as I’d admire the beautiful cake!
Now a decent person would also be delighted to share that wonderful cake with everyone else, right? Not me. Well, I wouldn’t have told anyone I didn’t want to share. No way. My mama taught me better than that. But I did have a tricky little way of making sure there was plenty of cake left. For me.
I would whip up my children’s, friend’s, family’s most favorite desserts to celebrate my birthday. At least one yummy dessert, maybe more, if we had invited guests. That way, there was a nice choice of desserts. And I knew everyone wouldn’t (hopefully) be head-over-heels-in-love with Coterie cake, like I was.
Guess what? It worked like a charm, every single year. There would be a large portion of cake left after my birthday was over. I would carefully wrap it and place it in the freezer (okay, in the back of the freezer in a non-conspicuous-looking bag). Every night, for the next week or so, after the children were tucked away in dreamy-land, I would take a big sharp knife and cut two pieces, for Scott and myself, and pour tall glasses of cold milk. We’d let it thaw a bit and then we’d “mmmmm” and “ahhhhh” over every bite (quietly, of course, as we didn’t want any little people showing up for our party). Shame on
us me, right?!
But you know what? Don’t frown on me too much because, I bet that if you took one bite of this amazing Strawberry Layer Cake, you probably would do something similar. It’s one of “those” kind of cakes. Who knows, you might even come up with something more devious than I did!
I originally created this cake for my granddaughter Emmy’s third birthday. She had informed us for months that she wanted a “strawberry cake” for her birthday. I decided to use my favorite yellow cake recipe and give it a double dose of strawberries with a fresh strawberry buttercream icing and ribbons of strawberry jam between each layer of cake. The strawberry icing also boasts zillions of tiny delicious, vanilla beans. Emmy was thrilled with her cake and everyone at the party loved it as well.
I served the delicious cake again this past weekend when my sister and her husband were visiting from out of town. It seems that everyone was crazy about it – as crazy as I was over that Coterie cake. My brother-in-law even asked for dessert after breakfast on the day they were leaving! Being a hospitable hostess, I obliged, and then realized everyone else at the table, was looking at Steve’s cake longingly. So we all had Strawberry Layer Cake for breakfast-dessert!
I’ve come a long way over the years and now love sharing a wonderful cake with others, especially with all of you. But (not to give me too much credit), maybe it’s because I can make one any time I want. You can too! The cake is quite fool-proof, if you follow the directions. You’ll want to plan ahead and give yourself enough time for the layers to cool completely before icing. There’s also a little stint in the fridge or refrigerator for the crumb coat to set. I actually like to make the cake a few days in advance and pop it in the freezer. I take it out early in the day and by dinner it’s perfect, tastes freshly baked and eliminates a lot of last minute fussing.
You might be wondering what other tricks I have up my sleeve. Well, to be honest, there are a few others. But you’ll have to keep following The Café to learn more. After all, I can’t spill all the beans at one time!
Seriously though, if you haven’t subscribed to The Café, you can do it here. That way you’ll never miss a post (or a trick!). We’re also on Instagram and Facebook, where every morning, we share a “DINNER IDEA” along with lots of other delicious ideas and inspirations. If you get in a rut with your cooking or wonder, what in the world, to make for that evening meal, we’ve got you covered!
- For the cake:
- 3¼ cups cake flour*
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces butter softened
- 2½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 1¼ cups whole milk
- 2/3 cups good quality strawberry jam**
- For the strawberry buttercream:
- 8 ounces butter softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup diced strawberries packed
- 2 tablespoons half and half or whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
For the cake, preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray three 8-inch*** cake pans generously with baking spray (make sure the sides of the pan are well greased).**** Cut circles of parchment paper to fit pans and place one in the bottom of each pan. Spray again, lightly.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. (I use a fine strainer for sifting, just hold strainer above a clean bowl, add flour mixture and tap gently on one side to sift.)
Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beating until smooth after each addition.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes (a bit longer if you use 9-inch pans) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes; then invert cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Slice domed tops off cakes to level them, if needed.
Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Add ½ cup icing and spread to cover. Spread 1/3 cup strawberry jam over layer of icing. Add another cake layer and spread with another ½ cup icing and 1/3 cup jam. Top with final cake layer. Frost entire cake with a very thin layer of icing. This is the crumb coat. The crumbs will be trapped and will keep your final icing layer crumb free. Place cake in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes until crumb coat is dry and set/
Place a generous amount of icing on top of cake. Spread icing over top and down sides to cover completely, adding more icing as needed. Decorate icing with a swirly pattern as you proceed. Allow icing to set. Serve and enjoy the rave reviews.
For the strawberry buttercream, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat till light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add powdered sugar, strawberries and half and half (or milk) and beat on lowest speed until powdered sugar is incorporated (otherwise powdered sugar will fly everywhere). Increase speed to high and beat for 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl a couple times during the 5 minutes. Add vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) and beat for another 30 seconds or until well incorporated.
Check icing, it should be fluffy and easy to spread. Strawberries vary in juiciness and this can affect the consistency of the icing. Add a bit more milk or powdered sugar if needed to achieve desired consistency.
Cake flour is lower in protein than regular flour. It has a fine texture which gives cake a meltingly tender texture. It's sold in the U.S. in most grocery store in the same are as regular flour. Look for a red and white box. Most of the cake flour sold in the U.S. is under the name Swans Down. If you can't find cake flour, it can be made by combining all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Here is a recipe for cake flour.
** I like to use my Strawberry Freezer Jam for this cake. Look for jam that has a pretty red color and one whose ingredients are berries and sugar. If I'm using purchased jam, I like to use Bonne Mamam
*** If you don’t have 8-inch cake pans, you can use 9-inch. The finished cake won’t be as tall, of course, and it will be wider in circumference but it will work fine.
**** Don’t use cooking spray. Baking spray has flour and shortening which will prevent sticking. If you don't have baking spray, grease pans thoroughly with butter or shortening, then add a teaspoon of flour to each pan. Tilt pan to coat with the flour, then dump out any excess.