Strawberry season is almost here and I know some of you in warmer climates are already buying freshly picked strawberries. Here is a perfect cake for a springtime celebration. I made it for our birthday dinner with family recently and it was delicious! It reminded of the Danish layer cakes that my mother used to buy for a special occasion when I was growing up. There was no need to make one from scratch as we had such amazing Danish bakeries in my home town.
The cake can be baked in either two or four round cake pans. I used 2 cake pans and cut the cakes in half horizontally. It helps if you have a very large spatula for this step for separating the layers. We have this one that we bought for the grill but it does double-duty in the kitchen quite often. It really works well for moving delicate layers of cake!
I also wanted to share a cute spring Do-It-Yourself idea I found on Pinterest recently which is succulents planted in a salvaged bird's nest. I used a robin's nest found in our yard years ago, lined the nest with moss, then added tiny succulents. I borrowed some moss from a shady rock in our yard and have "Hens and Chicks" succulents growing in the garden so total cost to make this was $0. I put the planted nest in a small urn to help stabilize it and hold any water leaks. I've had it growing in the house for almost a month already and it's still doing really well.
Strawberry-Lemonade Layer Cake
Adapted from Southern LivingPrintable Recipe
The strawberry jam can be made several days ahead and the entire cake can be assembled a day or two day ahead and keep refrigerated. Refrigerating after frosting the cake also helps the frosting to firm up better for easier slicing. You can also bake and freeze the unfrosted cake layers up to a month in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
Note: I used only 2 9" cake pans rather than 4 and then cut those cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers
Makes 12 servings
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bakers Joy baking spray or shortening for greasing cake pans (I lined the bottom of the cake pans with rounds of parchment paper that I had traced and cut into circles using the bottom of the cake pans as a guide and sprayed with Bakers Joy)
Strawberry-Lemonade Jam (See Below)
Strawberry Frosting (See Below)
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until blended.
Stir together flour and baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
Beat the egg whites in a large bowl at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-third of beaten egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in remaining the egg whites. Spoon batter into 4 prepared pans (Bakers Joy or shortening-floured 9-inch round cake pans).
Bake at 350° for 16 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (If you only use 2 cake pans, as I did, you will need need to bake them about 25-30 minutes until the wooden pick comes out clean). Do not over bake.
Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes and then invert on the wire racks to cool completely.
If you used only 2 cake pans, then slice each cake in half horizontally using a long, serrated knife.
Place the first cake layer on a serving platter, and spread with about 1/2 cup Strawberry-Lemonade Jam, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges. Spoon about 1/2 cup of Strawberry Frosting over the jam layer. Top with second and third cake layers, repeating procedure with filling and frosting between each layer. Top with last cake layer, and spread remaining Strawberry Frosting on top and sides of cake.
Strawberry-Lemonade Jam (can be made several days ahead and refrigerated)
Makes about 1 2/3 cups
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Process strawberries in a blender until smooth. Press through a wire-mesh strainer into a 3-qt. saucepan, using the back of a spoon to squeeze out juice, discarding pulp. Stir in the sugar.
Whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch and then gradually whisk that into the strawberry mixture. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, about 1 minute or longer, until thickened. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and place plastic wrap directly on warm jam. Chill at least 2 hours or until cold. May be made up to one week ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
Makes about 5 cups
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar, divided
2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 drop pink food coloring gel (optional)
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the strawberries and food coloring (if desired) and beat until blended.
Beat the whipping cream and lemon juice at medium speed until foamy, then increase speed to medium-high and slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold half of whipped cream mixture into cheese mixture, then fold in remaining whipped cream mixture. Frost cake soon after making.