I hold a certain fondness for spring that no other season can quite amount to. It all began 20 years ago with my favorite seasonal fruit. The year was 1991, and the month was March. It was my 4th birthday. Enter the cake that changed my life. My previous 3 birthdays immediately blurred into oblivion as the magical pink concoction (see photo on left) aglow with the fiery light of four strategically placed candles was lowered before me. A cake with pink icing adorned with bright red strawberries. Before my years could even comprise a whole hand of fingers, I had tasted the birthday cake that I vowed would be the official cake of every annual celebration of my birth.
Every year since I have asked—pleaded, even—for a strawberry cake (with pink icing, please) but for some reason my demands have never been met. Ice cream cakes, tiered versions, and intricately decorated bakery types complete with farm animals, princesses, and clowns; but none have ever held a candle to the glorious cake of ’91. This year, I took matters into my own hands and baked myself a cake (see photo below). Okay, I know what you are thinking, but the faintly depressing nature of this task faded away immediately upon taking my first bite. Finally, I have found a recipe that can hold its own against my unwavering demands. This cake utilizes one of the loveliest fruits that spring has to offer and makes for a happy birthday, indeed. It comes highly recommended from one admittedly picky strawberry cake connoisseur.
Strawberry Layer Cake
- 1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries
- 10 ounce all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
- Cooking spray
- 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 12 whole strawberries (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- To prepare cake, place sliced strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth.
- Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add pureed strawberries and food coloring; beat just until blended.
- Divide batter between 2 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
- To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 1/3 cup butter, and liqueur in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat just until blended.
- Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Cut 1 whole strawberry into thin slices, cutting to, but not through, the stem end. Fan strawberry on top of cake just before serving, if desired. Cut remaining 11 strawberries in half. Garnish cake with strawberry halves, if desired.