Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Strawberry-Lemonade Layer Cake

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 filling for the cake layers is a delicious, fresh strawberry jam that you can make several days ahead and the cake itself is best assembled a day ahead so the frosting and filling have time to firm up in the refrigerator. The frosting is a blend of whipped cream, cream cheese and more freshly chopped strawberries. 

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!

One important  tip I can offer when making this cake is to read the directions more thoroughly than I did!  I had all of the layers frosted and assembled, up to the point of frosting the sides, when I realized that the strawberry jam was still in the refrigerator. Palm on forehead! I had to separate each frosted layer (again the extra wide spatula to the rescue) and then I spread the jam.  The frosting wasn't even supposed to go in between the layers, just the jam, but I liked it so much with both fillings that I wouldn't make it any other way!

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 Living
Printable 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.

Strawberry Frosting

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.


From the Kitchen said...

Well, of course it's good if it's from Southern Living!! As an aside, when we moved here (from Charleston, S.C.), I had to pay extra for my subscription to S.L.. I think that has changed now. The cake looks delicious--no matter that you had to deconstruct and reconstruct.


SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I love Southern Living magazine and subscribe too. They have such good recipes. Glad they don't charge extra for non-Southerners now! Of course I'm loyal to Midwest Living magazine too ;)

Rosa V. said...

Susan, I love your strawberry and lemon flavor cake , it looks amazing and I sure it's delicious indeed.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Rosa! It is delicious.

Chiara said...

what a luxury cake ,looks delicious Susan ! A warm hug

Vee said...

What a lovely summery cake! It looks and sounds beyond delicious. (Perhaps a bit labor intensive. Nearly eveything worth eating is.) An oh what a sweet idea for succulents. I have some hens and chicks hanging on by a thread and I have an extra nest and I have a pedestal minus a bowl...must put on my thinking cap.

Marigene said...

What a beautiful cake...strawberry and lemon go so nicely together. I like your MC pedestal server!
Cute idea for the succulents.
Have a great week, Susan.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Chiara! It is wonderful for a special occasion.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thanks, Vee! It does have some steps but the good thing it can be made in stages and ahead of time. Hope you can come up with idea for the nest! Try to use small hens and chicks. Mine plants were in rough shape too and the pieces barely had any roots but that's okay. They love the moss.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Marigene! They do go together deliciously!

Gloria Baker said...

Absolutely wonderful strawbery cake Susan and I love your pedestal server!

La Table De Nana said...

The cake reminds me of an old fashioned Strawberry Social dessert♥
I love the look and I can picture the palm on forehead..I may have cussed ..blush..
not a bad cuss..but ..
I spotted a nest in my climbing hydrangea this weekend..from last year so I will climb the ladder and get it..Love that sweet thing;)
I bet a nursery would sell it for big $$$..
Strawberry ~Lemonade.sounds like porch swings..screen doors:) Love.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Monique! I may have uttered something also :) Thankfully, it ended well! Please be careful if you decide to climb up on a ladder. I don't want you to get hurt. I'll be your version would be beautiful, though! I would have filled mine even more but that was all I dared take from the garden as they had a rough winter. Nice to think of porch swings but not today. There was even some white stuff blowing around this morning!

Schnitzel and the Trout said...

Oh yummy.
What a treat this would be.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

It is! Thank you, Susan!

Tricia Buice said...

What a wonderful cake! I adore strawberries - in anything but especially cake. Love the planting tip. You did a great job and love reusing a nest - so clever!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Me too :) Thanks so much, Tricia!

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

My goodness! This cake just screams spring! And thanks for the bird's nest idea. I save mine, too!

Juliana said...

Wow Susan, this is such a beautiful and "refreshing" cake...looks delicious and so pretty...I wish for a big slice of it.
The nest with the succulents are so cute...
Enjoy the rest of your week :)

Angie's Recipes said...

I want to LICK all the strawberry cream away! The cake looks so dreamy and delicious.
The succulents in bird's nest are so cool!

Joanne said...

What a gorgeous cake!! It totally screams SPRING and WARM WEATHER.

pam said...

I make a jam like this but don't leave the pulp behind, it comes out like the preserves my hubby loves. This looks like a wonderful cake to make soon. I do love when I can walk into our store and the smell of the strawberries greets me.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

This time of year makes me want to scream for joy too ;) Thanks, Abbe!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Juliana! I wish you were closer so I could give you some :)

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

The strawberry cream could be dessert in itself :) Thank you, Angie!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Joanne! Served slightly chilled it is the perfect warm weather dessert.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I'll have to try leaving the pulp in and make some preserves like you do. That sounds delicious! Thank you, Pam!

Anonymous said...

Oh yea, that is what I need right now, a big slice!! I love your strawberry and lemon flavor cake, I am going to try your recipe. Great photography too! :)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love strawberry shortcake ,and usually make one for my birthday in June, but now I'll have to try making this wonderful looking strawberry cake, Susan! I also love Southern Living Magazine and subscribe to it.

Penny said...

That is a beautiful cake Susan. Love your cake stand too. Southern Living has such great recipes and this is definitely a keeper. Love your succulents in their nest. Sorry the white stuff is back.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Michael!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I love strawberry shortcake! June will be the kick-off to strawberry season here. Thank you, Pat!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you, Penny! Luckily, the white stuff didn't stay on the ground - whew.

chow and chatter said...

wow what a fab cake, looking forward to in season strawberries too they taste so much better

Cathy said...

Oh Susan, I can't wait to make this cake. It looks absolutely heavenly, especially on your beautiful cake plate. I think our strawberries will be a week or two early this year because of our unusually nice weather.

Deana Sidney said...

although I have had my share of oops moments cooking, I have had so many mistakes turn into triumphs. I think sometimes we just know something will work. I am mad for lemon anything. Lovely idea and beautiful cake. Here's to delicious mistakes!!!

Katerina said...

What an elegant and delicious cake! i love the combination of lemon and strawberry! And how patient you were to correct your mistake and make it right!

kitchen flavours said...

Such a beautiful cake! Lemon and strawberries sounds delicious!
The succulents looks very pretty in the bird nest!

Unknown said...

Brilliant! This would be perfect to serve for Mother's Day.

Daniela Grimburg said...

I can not imagine a better way to celebrate spring than with this gorgeous looking Strawberry Lemon cake.
Brilliant, Susan!

handmade by amalia said...

Almost too scrumptious, Susan! I must know if there is some left over.

Barbara said...

What a lovely cake, Susan...and a super recipe for Mother's Day. So feminine in color and that strawberry cream....divinely delicious! (Love your Mackenzie Childs cakestand.)

Sue/the view from great island said...

This post just screams spring - I am going to make the cake for my daughter, she's a strawberry maniac!

Kathleen said...

Looks delicious, Susan! I make my icing for carrot cake that way, minus the lemon. I like it better than just the cream cheese. If you add a packet of Dr. Oetker Whip It to the icing it is easier to get nice peaks. When I did catering I used to order it by the case from Amazon. Ah, the good old days of working 2 jobs! :)

Anna and Liz Recipes said...

OMG Sue this cake looks so amazing !! I had to laugh about the part when you left the jam in the fridge and had to do it over again- I have done that Numerous times so I can relate! Southern living is my favor it magazine for recipes but I love had you blended the cream with the jam As the filling.., I bet it is better than the original recipe !