Sometimes you picture something in your mind before you make it and it looks so good in your imagination that you brace yourself for the reality knowing it may not be as good. Other times you make something and you exceed your own expectations. This Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake exceeded my expectations and I was excited to knock my own socks off with it. I used my favorite white cake recipe and kept it simple with strawberry jam between the layers and really soft, simple almond butter cream. Since it was my birthday, I made it a bit special with some amazing mauve spray roses and an all over petal effect in the frosting.
It’s a lovely cake, easy to work with and there are no tricks here. The recipe is easy to follow and doesn’t take long to make. When you’re choosing fresh flowers for a cake make sure they are non toxic/edible (obviously) and do your best to source organic blooms and give them a bit of a rinse so you don’t end up with pesticides or pests in your cake. For this cake I simply trimmed the tiny roses and stabbed them (gently placed them?) into the frosting. I had enough to cover the whole surface but I really like the aesthetic of a sort of halo or crown of flowers along one side, sort of organically spilling across the cake’s top. Roses are technically edible but there is no bonus to munching on these pretty petals, they don’t taste like much, guests can simply remove them from their slice as they go. If you don’t want to waste the roses and rosebuds you can rinse them and float them in a bath (so luxe!) or float them in a pretty shallow bowl as a centerpiece or decorative arrangement. Alternatively you could freeze them into ice cubes to float in a punch bowl or to pretty up your water glass.
But back to the cake …
It’s lovely to look at but I promise it’s even better to eat! More pictures and the recipes are after the jump. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments! Happy baking!
Vanilla Strawberry Birthday Cake
preheat oven to 350°F
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup milk, divided, at room temperature
2 Tbsp pure vanilla bean paste
3 cups, minus 6 tablespoons flour, sifted (replace the 6 Tbsp flour with cornstarch)
1-3/4 cups sugar
1-½ Tbsp baking powder
3/4 Cup salted butter, softened
Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla bean paste. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely before splitting and frosting.
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted icing sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp pure almond extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed until it is very pale & creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
To assemble the cake:
Split the 2 cakes into 4 layers. Place the bottom half of one cake, cut side up, on your serving plate. Spread ¼ C of your favourite strawberry jam on the cake leaving a ½” border. Pipe a solid bead of frosting around the jam. This will act as a dam to hold the jam in as the cake stacks up and gets frosted. Gently press on the top half of the same cake, cut side down this time. Repeat with another ¼ C of jam, piping frosting around the edge. Add the third round of cake (the top half of the remaining cake, cut side up), repeat the frosting and jam, finishing the stack with the final bottom layer, cut side down. This will make the top of the cake a flat, crumb-less surface for frosting. Crumb coat the whole cake with a thin layer of frosting using an offset spatula, ensuring that you pave the cracks between layers densely with frosting. Chill the cake for 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
To frost the cake, using a round tip, pipe a vertical line of frosting dots down the side of the cake. Use your offset spatula to smear the dots to the right. Pipe another vertical row of dots overlapping the smeared ends of the dots, repeat until the whole cake is covered. For the top, ring the cake with a series of dots of frosting right at the edge of the cake, making a seamless line between the vertical dots and the edge of the cake. Use the spatula to smear the dots towards the center of the cake. Repeat in concentric circles. Decorate with fresh flowers.