As beach weather draws near, my mind starts wandering to picnics in the park, dinner’s on the terrace and, of course, strawberry picking! Every year, me, my hubby and my two little’s take a trip to gather berries and make, well, just about as many things with them as possible! For me, that means JAM! For the kids, it means fruit cup’s or ice-lollies, but ALL of us enjoy a nice slice of Berry-delicious cake!
We haven’t yet gone on our Strawberry picking pilgrimage, but, I find myself buying more and more strawberries as they come into season, and this weekend, I found myself pining for a good ol’ slice of cake. So my eager helper, also known as my son, Teddy, Spent a lazy afternoon jamming and caking together.
You can see he’s excited!
I decided to make my own strawberry crush-sauce as a yummy filling for the cake. Teddy helped with the stirring, I did try to let him cut some strawberries with a plastic knife, but the results were a little too organic!
I was originally going to go the whole hog and make a strawberry cake, but my hubby is a plain cake kinda guy and appreciates the off-cuts, so we went with a vanilla/lemon cake- using fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and a spoonful of vanilla bean paste! This is definitely one of those light and airy sponges, the crumb is not quite as fine as I make for tiered cakes but the flavor is killer.
The cake is smothered in a yummy vanilla buttercream and sandwiched with a generous layer of the strawberry-crush jam. Once the cake had been filled and stacked, I strained the jam through a fine-mesh sieve to create a sauce for drizzling. I have to say, I thought the strawberry sauce might be overkill, but it was just the perfect amount of tart-berry flavor to counter the sweetness of the vanilla buttercream- the perfect bite! Teddy came in handy as my buttercream tester! As you can see, it was pretty good!
I gave the cake a scant coating of the buttercream and a generous drizzle of the sauce. I mixed a little of the remaining strawberry sauce into the leftover buttercream and piped some rosettes on top, the pretty pink looked beautiful against the lemony-colored buttercream.
For the Vanilla Sponge
- 2 1/2 cups AP flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- zest of a lemon
- 1 cup milk
- Let all your ingredients come to room temperature. This is really the secret to a light and fluffy cake.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Butter and flour three 6 inch pans or 2 8 inch pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed.
- Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, which will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Then mix for 3 more minutes until airy and light. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Now add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg-sugar mixture while the machine is running. When it’s fully incorporated, add one-third of the milk. Continue alternating adding the dry ingredients with the milk until it’s all incorporated and the batter is smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl as you go.
- Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until incorporated- you want to make sure you add the acid component last.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pans and give each one a couple of solid taps on the counter to release any air bubbles, then transfer them to the oven.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans on a wire rack, then turn the cakes out onto the racks and cool for at least another hour before frosting.
For the strawberry Filling
- 1 quart strawberries, hulled and chopped
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/2 cup of strawberry jam
Chop the strawberries and place into a medium pot with lemon juice, sugar and jam. Bring to the boil, stirring to prevent catching. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes until thick. Allow to cool fully before using.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- 4 sticks (2 cups) butter
- 1 2lb bag of confectioners sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbs of milk
cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Once incorporated add vanilla and milk and whip for 5 minutes at high speed until light and fluffy.