I make cakes. Lots of cakes for various occasions; last month I made three birthday cakes in eight days. I regularly make yellow cake, pineapple upside down cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, orange and walnut cake, Louisiana crunch cake, almond cake, brown sugar crumb cake, chiffon cake, apple walnut cake, Caribbean rum cake, red velvet cake, etc. etc. etc. Notice anything missing here? Yep, no white cake. I honestly cannot remember the last time I made a white cake. Weird, huh? So, today I’m sharing the recipe for the moist white layer cake with fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting that I made this weekend to celebrate our niece’s birthday. This cake is actually easy to make and would be perfect for a birthday, anniversary, Easter, Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion.
Joe’s brother and sister-in-law and their older daughter flew to Tampa on Saturday to spend a few days in sunshine and warm weather and, since it was our niece’s birthday last week, I wanted to make a birthday cake for her. When I asked what kind of cake she wanted, she replied “white cake with strawberry frosting and vanilla ice cream”. Excellent choice! Now I just had to find a recipe for a white cake and figure out how to make strawberry frosting because my entire frosting repertoire pretty much consists of American buttercream, chocolate ganache, ermine (aka cooked) frosting, and cream cheese frosting, with an occasional penuche frosting thrown in for variety.
I found the white cake recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and a few minutes of internet research turned up a technique that I could tweak and use to add fresh strawberries to my regular cream cheese frosting. Things were falling into place; we’re in the middle of Florida’s strawberry season so I had two pounds of beautiful Florida strawberries in the fridge and I would use the egg yolks leftover from the cake to make homemade vanilla ice cream in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Win-win!
Start this cake by mixing all the dry ingredients together on low, then toss the butter in a piece at a time while the mixer is running so that the result looks something like fine crumbs.
Use a fork or a whisk to mix the egg whites with whole milk and the extracts, pour most of it into the dry mixture and beat it till it’s smooth, then add the remainder and beat it some more.
When the batter is done and ready to be baked, it will look slightly curdled.
Put cake strips around the pans then slide them into the oven until the cake is golden brown around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean.
While the cakes were baking, I made the strawberry puree so that it would have time to cool. I prepared the fresh strawberries by quartering and buzzing them in our mini food processor, straining out the seeds with a fine strainer, adding a little sugar and a squirt of lemon juice, then reducing them in a small saucepan on the stove for 10 or 15 minutes until the puree was about as thick as tomato sauce which, unfortunately, is what it looks like in this photo!
Notice how nice and flat the cake is because I used the cake strips. Cakes with a hump in the middle need their tops sliced off to level them before assembling and frosting, which is a hassle.
Leave the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn them out and let them cool another 2 hours on the racks. Once they’re completely cooled, you can torte them if you want, then frost and decorate.
To pipe the writing on the top of the cake, I took out about half a cup of plain frosting, added some light corn syrup to thin it out, and set it aside. To the rest, I beat in four tablespoons of strawberry puree, the vanilla extract, strawberry extract, and pink gel color.
At that point, I removed about 1-1/2 cups of the frosting, added two more tablespoons of strawberry puree to it and used it as the filling in the torted layers. To torte a cake means to slice each layer in half horizontally and reassemble it with a filling of some kind.
The remaining frosting is what I used in the very middle, the outside, and for the borders.
Starting from the bottom there’s cake, filling, cake, frosting, cake, filling, cake, frosting.
This strawberry cream cheese frosting not only tastes heavenly, it’s easy to smooth out because there aren’t any strawberry seeds, and it works well for borders or other decorations.
So, do try this easy, but impressive moist white layer cake with fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting for your next special occasion.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 1 cup (8 fluid oz) whole milk, at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups (9-1/2 oz, 264 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups (12-1/4 oz, 343 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 oz (170 grams) salted butter, cool room temperature, cut into 12 pieces
- 2 cups (about 8 oz, 225 grams) fresh strawberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup (8 oz, 226 grams) salted butter, cool room temperature
- 4 cups (16 ounces, 454 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon strawberry extract
- 4 tablespoons strawberry puree
- 16 ounces regular cream cheese, chilled and cut into 16 pieces
- red or pink gel food coloring, optional
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°F.
- Spray two 8" round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment, and lightly spray again.
- Use a fork or a whisk to mix the milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and almond extract together in a 2- or 4-cup measuring cup.
- Using the flat paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl of electric mixer at low speed.
- With the mixer on low, toss in the pieces of butter one at a time and mix until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk/egg mixture to the bowls and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1-1/2 minutes.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.
- Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl; return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and spread into even layer; wrap cake strips around pans.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 21 to 25 minutes.
- Leave the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack; cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Quarter strawberries and puree in a small food processor, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small, heavyweight saucepan.
- Add sugar and lemon juice, and cook on medium heat 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until about as thick as tomato sauce.
- Sift the powdered sugar.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, briefly beat the butter until creamy, then add the powdered sugar, extracts, and 4 tablespoons strawberry puree on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
- Increase the speed to medium and add the cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, mixing until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Frost the completely cooled cake.
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