Fresh strawberries when ripe and rich in deep red color are so flavorful that you’ll want to make everything you can think possible. Strawberry cakes quite often though lack really deep flavor and or call for strawberry jello as part of the recipe. Upon researching different recipes I found a common suggestion of cooking down fresh berries into a thick paste to not only concentrate the flavor but also help reduce the liquid in the batter. The cake also gets a boost from a wee bit of strawberry emulsion and the result is very fresh and delightful. I made this for a friend of mine for her birthday; I make her cake every year and always do something different and everyone at the party raved on how much they loved this cake. The recipe is from Liz at sugergeekshow.com and I just changed it slightly. I upped the wow factor by dipping some fresh berries in a striped effect with candy coating, but you could use also semi or dark chocolate if you like, or just keep it simple without.

Strawberry Cake

(recipe slightly adapted from Sugargeekshow.com )

14 oz. ( 397 g) all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp, baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

8 oz. ( 226 g) unsalted butter, room temp

10 oz. (284 g) granulated sugar

zest of one lemon

6 oz. (170 g) egg whites room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

6 oz. (170 g) whole milk, room temperature

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. strawberry emulsion (such as LorAnn oils bakery emulsion) or 1 1/2 tsp. strawberry extract

4 oz. (113 g) strawberry reduction room temperature (see below)

1/2 tsp. pink gel food color (I used 1/4 tsp. electric pink and 1/4 tsp. deep pink)

  1. Prepare your baking pans with non stick spray with flour and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, except the sugar.
  3. In large glass measuring container; such as 4 cup size; if you have one (or bowl) whisk the milk, lemon juice, strawberry reduction, strawberry emulsion, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and pink food coloring.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy and almost white; about three to five minutes. I actually rub the lemon zest into the sugar first before I add it to the mixer bowl.
  5. Add in the egg whites a little at a time, beating about 15 seconds in between. The mixture should not look curdled; if it does your butter or egg whites were too cold.
  6. Mix on low speed and add about 1/3 of the dry flour mixture to the batter, alternating with about 1/3 of the milk mixture ; repeating again 2 more times, ending with the flour mixture. When the batter is almost combined, stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir gently by hand with a spatula any uneven colored spots.
  7. Divide the batter between your 3 pans and smooth the tops to even out the batter. Bake in the preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it.
  8. Place the pans on top of a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then turn out the cakes onto the racks to cool completely. I also do this the day before and wrap my cakes while still slightly warm in plastic wrap; double wrap and keep on the counter to assemble the following day to save time.

Additional items: optional

additional strawberries (washed and dried) for garnish and also dipping

Strawberry syrup (purchased) optional; I used Monin brand

Strawberry reduction

1 pound fresh ripe strawberries stems removed, rinsed, dried.

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

In a food processor blitz the berries until you have a puree. Place the puree in a medium saucepan and over medium high cook until bubbling, then turn down to low to medium heat, cook the puree down until it resembles a thickened paste like consistency. This will take several minutes; mine took about 30 mins. If your mixture looks still loose and watery, continue to cook it until all the liquid is removed. You will probably end up with about 3/4 cup or a tad more. Allow to cool; you can make it the day before to save time and chill, just bring out to room temperature when making the cake.

Easy Strawberry Buttercream

4 oz. (113 g) pasteurized egg whites

16 oz (454 g) unsalted butter room temperature

16 oz. (454 g) confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. strawberry emulsion

3-4 Tbsp. strawberry reduction

In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and confectioners sugar. Using the whisk attachment combine on low, then whip whip on high for about 5 minutes.

Add in the room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time with the mixer running and whip until all the butter is in and the mixture looks very pale and shiny. Add in the strawberry reduction, salt and the strawberry emulsion until combined and smooth. I like the then run a spatula through the mixture and pressing down to remove any air bubbles; alternatively, you can switch to the paddle attachment and run for about 5 minutes on low to achieve this.
To assemble and decorate, place one layer of cake onto your desired base and brush with some strawberry syrup. If you don’t have syrup you can spread some strawberry jam; this helps keep the cake moist as well as give some extra flavor. An option (which I did is to remove any of the browned areas of the cake top/bottom/and sides with a serrated knife before assembling; it gives the cake a more refined and polished look). I use a standard size ice cream scoop to dollop my buttercream before spreading as this makes sure you have an even layer of buttercream; I think I used 2 1/2 scoops per layer; it mighty have been three but you get the idea. I had some buttercream left over so you could definitely do three scoops. Repeat with the next cake layer by brushing with the syrup, then apply buttercream until you have all three layers assembled. Apply a thin crumb coat of buttercream and chill the cake at least 30 mintues before completing with the final layer of buttercream to the top, and sides. Decorate with fresh cut strawberries or as desired.

Now I realize I want a pink cake stand…