Yesterday was Mr. Pilot’s birthday, and although I was traveling for work, we managed to stage a small celebration last weekend before I left town. This is the second year in a row that I’ve baked a cake from scratch for his birthday, and this year we decided to make it official and call it tradition. Last year it was this decadent carrot cake, but this year Mr. Pilot was craving something a bit lighter. I thought the fresh fruit and sans-icing features of this Strawberry Layer Cake sounded perfect, and although it took all afternoon to create, it luckily tasted as good as it looked! Find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.
This year I baked this Strawberry Layer Cake for Mr. Pilot’s birthday. It was a perfect introduction to the flavors of summer.
Creating four layers was simpler than I at first thought.
The cake held together surprisingly well. The secret is to refrigerate for at least one hour before slicing it.
The cake is heavier, like shortbread, which means one slice is enough to satisfy!
Strawberry Layer Cake
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced 1/3″ thick
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 4 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center position. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper (cut to fit), butter paper and sides of pan, dust with flour and tap out excess.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a larger bowl, beat together butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about two minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat in vanilla.
4. Divide batter between pans. Bake about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until tops spring back when gently touched and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in pans for 20 minutes.
5. Run a knife around edge of cakes, invert onto racks and remove parchment. Let cool completely.
6. For the filling, combine sliced strawberries with granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Strain strawberries but reserve the syrup.
7. For the whipped cream, whisk cream with confectioners’ sugar until medium peaks form.
8. Trim off cake tops. Slice each cake in half horizontally, using a cake wire or a long, serrated knife.
9. Place the first cake layer on the serving plate and brush generously with strawberry syrup. Top with one-third of the strawberry mixture, then one-third of the whipped cream. Repeat with 2 more cake layers. Top with remaining cake layer, bottom side up. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
10. Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
- Find the original recipe at MarthaStewart.com.
- Strawberry filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
- Make sure cakes cool completely, possibly up to 60 minutes, before attempting to slice in half.
- Do slice off the tops of the cakes to make sure each layer is flat. I didn’t do this and as soon as I began assembling the cake, I understood why it was important.
- The original recipe calls for 2 cups of whipping cream, but I found it didn’t make enough to fill all the layers, so I recommend using at least 3 cups and sweetening to taste with the confectioner’s sugar.
- Absolutely be sure to refrigerate this cake before serving, as recommended. You’ll be glad you did when the layers hold together as you slice it. Enjoy!