Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry and Cream Cake

I love birthdays.  There's something delightful about treating one of my friends to something sweet simply to celebrate one more year of their existence.  It's one day a year to say I'm glad to have you in my life.  I see it as win-win, because each of my friends has a different preference for birthday treat, so I get to have fun with it, too.

For the latest birthday cake, I had to the option to make a Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake, or a Strawberry Torte.  It's June, it's beautiful, and it's getting warmer, so clearly the winner here are the strawberries!  A light, airy cake with in-season fruit is going to win out over the dense, heavy, comfort-food cake, in June, right?

This one was fairly simple to make, and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients.  Plus, the trick of putting gelatin in the whipping cream means that it won't separate after being in the fridge over night.  The cake is dense enough to absorb the flavour of the berries and cream without turning into a soggy mess, yet light enough to still be appropriate for a sunny day cake.

The strangest part, Grace, from whom I "stole" the recipe, posted this on my birthday last year.  So it really was destined to be birthday cake, don't you think? Happy Birthday, nurse-man :)

Strawberry and Cream Cake
Makes: 1 8-inch cake

Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whole milk

20 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 35%, cold
1 tsp unflavoured gelatin


Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a small pastry brush, grease bottom and sides of a 8-inch round cake tin.  Line bottom of tin with non-stick baking paper; butter paper and then flour bottom and sides of tin.

Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk to well combine, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and yolks, one-at-a-time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the stand mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the flour; beat until just combined (do not over-mix).

Pour batter into prepared cake tin.  Using a small offset spatula spread the batter evenly. Bake, rotating tin halfway through baking, until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in tin for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from tin and return to wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

Place two tablespoons cold water into a small-sized saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes.  Place saucepan over low heat, and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk the heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until very soft peaks form.

Continue to whisk, and gradually add the gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form.

Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally. Place bottom half, cut side up, on a cake stand or plate. Drizzle the juice from the berries onto the cake. Evenly arrange half of the strawberries over the bottom cake layer. Refrigerate the remaining berries. Top the strawberry layer with half of the whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the top half of the cake, cut side down, onto the layer of strawberries and cream. Top the cake with the remaining whipped cream, leaving a 2.5-cm (1-inch) border. Refrigerate the cake, at least 1 hour (preferably up to 1 day). Just before serving top the cake with the remaining chilled strawberries. 

Source: Grace's Sweet Life (check out her photos! They really show off this cake's charm.) 

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