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Today: An impressive, four-layer cake to make the most of strawberry season.
Spring is birthday season at my house, and I am always looking for fresh ways to celebrate. Sure, a chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting is always amazing, but this year I wanted to add something a little fresher to the mix. Enter the strawberry shortcake -- not the kind with biscuit-y shortcakes, which are also totally delicious, but a real-deal layer cake. Something tall, impressive, and worthy of a handful of birthday candles.
More: You could also stick some candles in this Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake.
This cake is a towering beauty, made from four layers of lemon-scented cake stuffed with a generous amount of strawberries and as much cream as I could manage. And the result is downright luscious. Use the freshest, sweetest berries you can find; I love buying strawberries from the farmers market this time of year because they are bright red and sweet, all the way through to the core.
This recipe makes an impressively tall, four-layer cake, perfect for celebrations. If that seems like too much cake for you, just freeze half of the cake wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap. You can defrost it, slice it in half, and fill it with berries and cream the next time the mood strikes. If you do this, make sure to cut the strawberries and cream in this recipe by half.
Other occasions that could be appropriately celebrated with a cake this good: Getting a new job, quitting an old job, a baby shower, a wedding shower, a spring dinner party, doing your laundry before you run out of underwear...you can see where I’m going here.
For the cake:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream or full-fat yogurt
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the sour cream, zest, and extract.
Gently mix the flour into the butter mixture until it's just combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.
For the filling and assembly:
1 quart strawberries
2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
While the cakes are cooling, hull and slice the strawberries. Sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons sugar, and stir it in gently. Taste the berries and add more sugar if they need more sweetness. Let them macerate for at least 15 minutes.
Whip the cream to soft peaks, then add in 1 tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla extract. Gently fold in the mascarpone.
To assemble the cake, slice each cake round horizontally to make 2 layers. Place one layer of the cake on a serving plate or pedestal, then cover it with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a third of the strawberries.
Repeat with the remaining cake layers, making sure to save a big spoonful of cream and a few strawberries to garnish the top. Then enjoy it immediately -- this cake is best served on the day that it's made, whether or not you have something to celebrate.
Photos by Yossy Arefi
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