The base of the cake is essentially a sponge cake. The recipe comes from an old Cuban cookbook that I inherited from my mother. This particular cake is also the base that I use for tres leches cake, on the rare occasions that I actually make it.
To start, let’s prepare our baking pan.
I am using an 8″ round, 3″ deep pan. I wrapped a Bake-Even strip around the outside of the pan here. This is totally optional, but I like to have a flat, even surface for my cake. Otherwise, if you want it flat, you will have to level it by hand.
Separate your eggs, set the yolks aside for now, and whip the egg whites. When they start to lighten, add your sugar. Whip the egg whites until you get a firm peak.
Meanwhile, sift your dry ingredients.
Once your egg whites are all whipped, add in your egg yolks, one by one.
Once your egg yolks are fully incorporated, you want to fold in your dry ingredients and your milk.
Then, pour the batter into your prepared baking pan.
And, into the oven it goes! I baked it at 325° for about 35 minutes. The baking time will vary, of course, based on the size of your baking pan and how hot your oven gets. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan completely. Meanwhile, you can prep your strawberries while you wait. This recipe uses about 2 lbs of strawberries. Pick out the prettiest ones to decorate the top of the cake (about 1 lb), then cut the rest into halves.
Next, you want to cut your cake in half. I use a cake cutter, because I am incapable of cutting straight without it. But, if you’re hardcore like that, go at it with a serrated knife. Godspeed to you, my friend.
Before I start filling the cake, I brush both sides with a little bit of syrup. Simple syrup is fine. In this case, I used vodka syrup. I just happened to have it available. It just helps to keep the cake from drying out. Next, spread half of your pastry cream on the bottom half, arrange a layer of strawberries on top, and then spread on the rest of the pastry cream. Top with the second cake layer and throw it in the fridge for an hour or so. You just want it to kind of settle a bit before you frost it.
When you’re ready to frost the cake, you make the whipped cream frosting.
Then, you frost and decorate the cake.
At this point, you’re pretty much done. This can go in the refrigerator until it’s ready for serving.
If you REALLY want to make a statement, you can add some additional touches to make it look better. Here, I wrapped store-bought ladyfingers around the outside of the cake (to hide my horrible frosting-spreading skills) and pipe the leftover whipped cream on top in cute little peaks.
Strawberry Cream Cake
For the Cake:
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp water or milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
For the Stabilized Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1-2 tbsp piping gel
- ½ tsp clear vanilla extract (use regular if you don’t have clear, but it will change the color of the finished product)
Pastry Cream (recipe here)
2 lbs fresh strawberries, divided and half of them cut in half
Simple syrup (optional)
To make the cake:
Pre-heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour an 8″ round baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer set up with the wire whip attachment, beat your egg whites to medium peaks. Add the sugar, then beat the egg whites on High until they form stiff peaks. Reduce the speed to medium and add the egg yolks, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
Fold in your dry ingredients and your milk or water, then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.
Make the Whipped Cream Icing:
In the bowl of your mixer set up with the wire whip attachment, beat your cream and sugar until soft peaks form.
Add your piping gel and vanilla, then beat until stiff peaks form. Do NOT over-beat. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When it is completely cool, slice the sponge cake in half lengthwise. Brush the halves with simple syrup, if desired.
Place one half of the cake on a cake board or serving dish. Spread half of the pastry cream on the cake, then top with the sliced strawberries and the remaining pastry cream. Set the second half of the cake on top of the filling, then refrigerate for about an hour.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator, frost with the whipped cream, and top with the remaining strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.