This Strawberries and Cream Layer ake looks like a dream and tastes like spring! I love the double dose of strawberry flavor from the cake and the fresh berries between the layers. I've decorated mine with some of my favorite tricks, like chocolate curls and chocolate panels made with transfer sheets, and I've included instructions for making it like mine just in case.
inchesChocolate transfer sheet(at least 10x16- if smaller use two sheets)
6-8ozwhite or pink chocolate curls
To Make the Strawberry Velvet Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line four 8" round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray. (9" round pans can also be used, you will just have thinner cake layers and will need to reduce the cooking time a bit.)
Combine the butter, oil, granulated sugar, and gelatin in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add the vanilla.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and in a separate bowl mix the buttermilk and strawberry puree together.
With the mixer running on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients and mix until just a few flour streaks remain, then pour in half of the buttermilk. Continue to alternate adding dry and wet ingredients, ending with the drys. Stop right when the flour is mixed in.
Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula, stirring around the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure that all of the stray flour is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. If you have a kitchen scale, each pan should get 13.5 oz of batter. Bake the cakes at 350 F for about 30 minutes, until they start pulling away from the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. These cakes won't dome much, so you won't be able to tell from how much they've rise—better to use the toothpick test here. Let them cool completely before assembling the cake. They can be made in advance, wrapped well in plastic wrap, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. If frozen, let them partially defrost before assembling.
To Make the Whipped Cream and Assemble:
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered gelatin and the cold water, and let it stand until the gelatin absorbs the water. Once absorbed, microwave the bowl for 10-15 seconds, until the gelatin melts. For this recipe, it should be melted but barely warm—certainly not hot. Let it cool if it is too warm.
Microwave 1/3 cup of cream for 10-15 seconds, until it is room temperature. Whisk the room temperature cream into the gelatin and set aside for just a moment.
In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the remaining 2 2/3 cups of cold cream, the sugar, and the vanilla bean paste or extract. Whip the cream with the sugar until it starts to thicken and the beater leaves traces in the cream. Pour in the cream and gelatin mixture, and continue to beat until the cream forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip the cream and cause it to separate. This cream will get stiffer as it sits, so it should be used to decorate and assemble the cake immediately.
To Assemble the Cake:
Place one cake round on a cardboard cake round, and top it with a generous cup of whipped cream. Use an offset spatula or knife to spread the cream evenly to the edge of the cake. Top the cream with a third of the fresh strawberries, keeping them away from the very edges of the cake. Press down gently to embed them in the cream.
Press a second cake round on top, and repeat layering the cream and strawberries. After all the cake layers are added, spread the remaining cream over the top and sides of the cake. If you follow my decorating suggestions the cream will be covered by chocolate panels and chocolate curls, so it doesn’t have to look pretty, but try not to have any bare patches since the chocolate will need something to adhere to.
Press the chocolate panels into the sides of the cake, overlapping them slightly. They should stick to the whipped cream, but if for some reason they aren't stable, consider tying a ribbon around the outside of the cake to stabilize them and add a pretty touch. Sprinkle chocolate curls on top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour, so that the whipped cream can firm up and the cake will be less messy to cut. Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To Make the Optional Chocolate Panels:
If you want to make the optional chocolate panels, first cut your 10x16-inch transfer sheet in half lengthwise, so that you have two 5-inch tall long strips. If there is a border around your sheets, cut it off so the pattern goes to the very edge. Set them rough side up on a long sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
Melt the white chocolate coating in a bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds so it doesn't overheat.
Pour the coating across the top of the two strips. Use a metal offset spatula to spread it in an even layer across the tops of the transfer sheets, extending past the edges so every bit of the sheets are covered. Carefully lift up the chocolate sheets and scoot them to a clean section of parchment—this will make sure that the sheets have clean edges all around, and it's easiest to do before the coating starts to set.
Let them sit for another 3-4 minutes, so that the coating has begun to set but is not yet hard, and cut your chocolate panels. Decide how wide you want your panels to be—I went with panels a little less than 2" wide. Using a large sharp chef's knife, press the knife down into the chocolate to cut it into rectangles. If you find that a large amount of chocolate is sticking to the knife, or is being “dragged” through the cuts, wait another minute or two for the chocolate to set further. After you have made the cuts, let the chocolate set completely at room temperature.
Once set, carefully peel the chocolate off of the transfer paper. The design will be transferred onto the rectangles, and you're now ready to use them to decorate your cake!
To make the strawberry puree, use approximately 8 oz of fresh or frozen strawberries. (If using frozen, defrost first.) Warm them over medium heat in a saucepan, mashing slightly to let them release their juice. Once warm, blend them in a blender or food processor until liquid, then pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Measure out ½ cup of puree for this recipe, and reserve any extra puree for another use.