Recently, a friend of mine hosted a barbecue and I volunteered to bring a cake, as I tend to do. A couple days before the event I checked with her on the number of guests. I had planned to make a 6-inch cake, but she told me twelve people were coming. I love making little 6-inch cakes but I also cannot stand the idea of running out of dessert. So, I did the only logical thing. I considered this news for about two minutes, then texted her to say that I’d be bringing two cakes. As one does.
One of those two cakes was the sprinkles and frosting cake I posted last month. The other was this lovely thing. In contrast to the explosion of sprinkles and pink, super sweet frosting, this cake held the more sophisticated position with barely sweet mascarpone whipped cream, vanilla cake, and beautiful, just in season strawberries. I don’t like to pick favorites but I think this was my favorite. Nothing is too sticky or too sweet, and with only three components it just seems so elegant in its simplicity. And once you start to find perfectly ripe strawberries, it really sings.
(Also, not to brag, but one time I brought this cake to a restaurant for another friend’s goodbye dinner, and the staff asked me where I bought it. That basically made my year.)
This time, I actually thought my strawberries needed a little boost, so I flavored a bit of the whipped cream with freeze dried strawberries. This was delicious, but is completely optional, and also completely unnecessary when the strawberries get really good. If you were to make this cake now or into next month, you won’t need it.
In the end, we had the perfect amount of cake. And the only bit left after the frenzy was one little piece of this one. I don’t think anyone was sorry.
Strawberries & Cream Cake
Vanilla recipe adapted from Style Sweet CA. Makes two, 6-inch layers.
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 tbs baking powder
- scant 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the frosting and the filling:
- 2 cups of cold heavy cream
- 8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 2 tbs powdered sugar
- 1 tbs vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and clean, plus more, for garnish.
- Make the cake: Butter and flour two, 6-inch cake pans and set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and milk and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on low speed until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time to the mixture while beating on low speed, then beat in the vanilla until mixture is well-blended. With the mixer on low, add in half the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining flour, fully combining each addition before adding the next. Once flour is fully mixed in, increase the speed to medium low and beat until smooth, about 15-20 more seconds.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake bans and bake 20-25 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean and edges of cakes are pulling away from the sides of the pans a bit. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While cakes are cooling, prepare the filling and the frosting. Whip together cream, powdered sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes until thickened. Add the mascarpone and whip to stiff peaks. Chop the strawberries and fold into half of the whip cream mixture and set aside.
- When cake layers are cool, level the layers so you can stack them evenly. Torte each layer so that you have four even cake layers.
- Assemble the layers and decorate: Pipe a border of the whipped cream frosting around the edges of your first layer, then fill in with the strawberry filling mixture. Stack another layer on top and repeat, until you top with your last layer (you may have some leftover filling at this point. It makes an excellent taco with the cake scraps from leveling). Spread the remaining frosting over the cake layers, as thickly or as naked as you want. I prefer to let the layers peek through. Decorate the top of the cake as you wish with any remaining strawberries.
- You can choose not to torte the layers so that you only have 2 layers of cake (as pictured). You will have more leftover filling, as the recipe is based on more layers.
- If you want to add more strawberry flavor, you can swirl in some strawberry whipped cream frosting with the vanilla (as pictured). For this variation, adjust the vanilla frosting amounts to 1 1/2 cups whipped cream and 6 oz mascarpone. Put 1 tbs of granulated sugar and 1/8 cup of freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor and pulse to a fine powder. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream and stir with a fork, then pulse with the remaining 2 oz mascarpone to a thick consistency. Use for decorating as desired.