Strawberry Cream Cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Published May 1, 2006.
- 1-1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
- 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries (medium or large, about 2 quarts), washed, dried, and stemmed
- 4 - 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kirsch
- Pinch table salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
Step 1: For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two round 9 by 2-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper.
Step 2: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in mixing bowl.
Step 3: Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
Step 4: In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 5: With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds.
Step 6: Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.
Step 7: Evenly pour batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.
Step 8: For the strawberry filling: Halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve.
Step 9: Quarter the remaining berries; toss with 4-6 tablespoons of sugar in medium bowl and let sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.
Step 10: In workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.
Step 11: For the whipped cream icing: When cake has cooled, place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
Step 12: Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).
Step 13: To assemble the cake: Place bottom layer on cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer.
Step 14: Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake.
Step 15: Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge.
Step 16: Gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours. The cake portion can be made ahead of time, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, and frozen; thaw the frozen cake, unwrapped, at room temperature for about two hours before proceeding with the recipe.