Over the weekend, we had a little celebration at our house for my Grandma’s birthday.
When talk of my Grandma’s birthday came up, Little Man’s first response was, “We need to bake a cake!” He was very insistent about the cake. Not only did we have to bake a cake, but it needed to have strawberries on top. My three-year old can be very specific.
I’ll be honest, I’m not really much of a cake person. I don’t make many cakes, and I usually choose other desserts over cake when given the option. But when your adorable little boy tells his great-grandma he wants to bake her a cake, you make it happen.
Plus, this would be a great cake to make for Valentine’s day as it’s pink and red! So really, it’s not that weird for me to share a strawberry cake in January, right?
I didn’t have any recipes for strawberry cake in my repertoire, and most of the ones online are made with jello. Now, no offense to jello, but it doesn’t hold a candle to real strawberries. So where did I search for my cake inspiration? Why, over at I Am Baker, of course. If anyone knows cake, it’s Amanda, and she makes the most gorgeous cakes I’ve ever seen. And she has a brand new book available for pre-order. Check it out!
Amanda has a recipe for Strawberry Cake that looked so delicious I couldn’t wait to try it. Even though I don’t really like cake! But I couldn’t leave well-enough alone, so I decided to make a couple of tweaks and turn it into a Strawberry Lemonade cake. Additionally, I frosted it with a strawberry whipped cream frosting. I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t like traditional frosting. But whipped cream? Yes, please. Plus it keeps this cake from being cloyingly sweet.
The batter of this cake is unlike any cake I’ve made before. Basically you mix up a meringue and then fold it in to the rest of the batter, which is really thick. I definitely got my arm workout for the day stirring this batter together!
Strawberry Lemonade Cake
Adapted from I Am Baker
- 4 egg whites
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup strawberry puree (I used about 1 cup frozen strawberries that I thawed in the microwave and then blended up with a hand blender)
- 3 cups diced fresh strawberries (about 1 lb)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup lemon curd (home-made or store-bought)
- 2 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
- 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup strawberry puree (this time I used fresh strawberries so they wouldn’t be quite as wet as the frozen puree)
- about 1/2 lb strawberries, sliced, for garnish.
- Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 2 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Grease parchment.
- Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add 1 cup sugar, very slowly, while beating to maintain soft peaks until fully incorporated. Transfer egg whites to another large bowl if needed to use your mixer for the other ingredients.
- Cream butter and remaining 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add lemon extract and lemon zest. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this in 3 parts, alternating with strawberry puree, until fully incorporated.
- Stir in 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the butter mixture until well-mixed to lighten the mixture, then fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, being careful not to deflate them. Your arms may burn by the end of this step.
- Stir 2 tablespoons flour into the diced strawberries to coat. Fold strawberries into the batter.
- Pour into prepared pans and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.
- When completely cool, remove from pans. Peel off parchment. Slice the tops of cakes to level.
- To assemble the cake: Place 1 cake on cake platter and top with lemon curd. Place other cake on top.
- To make frosting: Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar with electric mixer. Slowly add heavy cream. Scrape sides of the bowl, then beat until stiff peaks form. Add strawberry puree and mix to combine.
- Frost top & sides of the cake, then place sliced strawberries on top.
This cake is a bit dimpled because of the fresh strawberry chunks in it. I may have gotten a better result with slightly smaller strawberry pieces.
When I went to decorate, I put strips of wax paper around the edges of the cake so I could pull them out when the cake was done and not have frosting get on the cake plate.
I used store-bought lemon curd. Home made is definitely better, but I didn’t have any time this week. But either way, it adds a really nice zip of lemon tangy-ness to the cake. It’s lovely.
When I put one cake on top of the other, it was clear that my pans were not exactly the same size. So I trimmed it until it was even.
To frost your cake, I have the best results with putting a bunch of frosting on the top and then pushing it out to the sides and down.
And then I forgot to take pictures of the final product. D’oh! Food blogging fail.
Here’s a picture in poor light of the half-devoured cake on the night of the party.
And here’s a look at a slice the next day. It actually held up pretty well, though the strawberries inside the cake start to lose a bit of their vibrant color. Please, when you check out the recipe on I Am Baker, just pretend you don’t notice how much nicer her cake looks, mmkay? Thanks.
This cake was really good. And that’s saying something from someone who doesn’t like cake. It has a density to it without being overly heavy, and is very nice and moist. It tastes really fresh and reminds me of summer, which is what I need during this bitterly cold winter. And if this cake tastes this good with January strawberries, I can only imagine how amazing it would taste with fresh-from-the-farmer’s-market strawberries come summer.
Oh, summer… will you ever be back?