This fresh strawberry cake is pretty in pink and made with freeze-dried strawberries and a quick strawberry jam. This double punch gives the cake an all-natural strawberry flavor and a pale pink color. The frosting, known as Ermine Frosting is taken to the next level with a fresh strawberry puree.
This weekend I'm spending a lot of time on the computer. I'm working on this recipe post and two reports for work - all due this week. I'm pretty sure this is not what is meant by "fun in the summer time", but I'm enjoying it nevertheless.
The recipe post is due this week because it is all part of a collaboration with my friend Tina Zaccardi (The Italian Cookie). We decided months ago to do a collaboration, picked a date for posting and it seemed so far away. But here I am - just finishing my third version of this cake two days before posting, and taking pictures for the post and our IG giveaway.
Our theme is Summer Time Cakes. Tina is making a delicious lemon cake, can't wait to see it and I am doing a fresh strawberry cake. I love strawberries, but I love them even more in baked goods. Cooked berries have a more intense flavor and the sweeter the fruit the better the flavor.
How to Make the Strawberry Cake
The cake's intense strawberry flavor comes from fresh strawberries and freeze-dried strawberries. The combination of these ingredients creates an intense all-natural strawberry flavor and a pale pink color. The idea for this cake first came from Bake from Scratch and a recipe for the strawberry cake in their May 2017 issue. I made this recipe and then used it as a springboard for my own recipe. The Bake from Scratch recipe is really good, but I changed it up by using all cake flour, for a more tender crumb and used more freeze-dried berries to intensify the flavor.
A few notes on the ingredients. The cook time for the quick strawberry jam will depend on what type of strawberry you use. I used a local berry call Hood, which is really juicy. Another common version in my area is the Albion which doesn't give off as much liquid when cooked. I used the Hood strawberries because the berries are sweeter and the flavor more intense. If you use frozen strawberries you might have to cook them longer to get 1-1/2 cups of jam. The freeze-dried strawberries come from Trader Joe's and if you're in the USA you can order them online.
How to Make the Strawberry Ermine Frosting
This ermine frosting truly is a miracle frosting. It's an old recipe for cooked frosting that miraculously transforms from a paste to a fluffy, creamy frosting as you beat in the butter. The basic frosting is made with just 6 ingredients, but can easily handle the addition of flavorings. I learned about this frosting from America's Test Kitchen. I originally got the recipe from their website, but it is also in their cookbook The Perfect Cake. I recommend buying this book. It's full of a variety of delicious cake recipes. Some I've never heard of, but the pictures look yummy.
The basic frosting recipe is made by combining milk, flour, cornstarch and sugar and cooking it until it thickens. For the strawberry version of this frosting, I replaced half of the milk with pureed strawberries to intensify the flavor. Once the mixture is done scrape it into a plastic-lined pie plate and allow it to cool to room temperature. You can also stick the plate in the refrigerator, but make sure it is at room temperature (68-70 degrees F) when you add the butter. If it is too cold when you add the butter, the butter will start to clump and you'll have little bits of butter in the frosting.
I don't make this frosting too often, because Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my favorite, but when you want an easy frosting or you're out of eggs this is perfect. In addition, it can handle a large amount of fruit puree without separating or becoming too watery. This recipe contains 3/4 cup of strawberry puree and the taste is amazing. It's hard to stop tasting it.
The final cake tastes and smells like fresh strawberries. A treat for your eyes and senses. Enjoy! And please leave a note if you make the cake.
Fresh Strawberry Cake
- 3 8-inch cake pans
Quick Strawberry Jam
- 1 pound (454 grams) fresh strawberries sliced
- 3 tablespoons (38 grams) white granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Cake Pan Release
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 3 cups (342 grams) cake flour
- 2 cups (42 grams) freeze dried strawberries
- 2 1/4 cup (450 grams) white granulated sugar
- 16 tablespoons (228 grams) unsalted butter room temperature, 68 degrees
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 (180 grams) egg whites room temperature
- 3/4 cup whole milk
Strawberry Ermine Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (228 grams) fresh strawberries
- 3/4 cups whole milk
- 24 tablespoons (340 grams) unsalted butter room temperature, 68 degrees
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Quick Strawberry Jam
- Hull and slice the strawberries. Combine the strawberries with the sugar and lemon in a 3- quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the jam is thickened and reduced. You will have about 1-1/2 cups of jam.
- Pour the jam into a 2-cup measuring cup to ensure you have 1-1/2 cups. Cool to room temperature, about 70 degrees F. If you need the jam to cool more quickly pour it into a shallow bowl or pie pan.
For the Cake Pan Release
- Melt one tablespoon of butter in the microwave and add one tablespoon of flour. Stir until the mixture forms a paste. Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom and sides of the three 8-inch cake pans. Line the pans with 8-inch rounds parchment paper.
For the Strawberry Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Place the egg whites in a separate bowl or a measuring cup.
- Combine cake flour and freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor and grind to form a powdery, pale pink flour with no visible pieces of dried fruit.
- Combine the sugar, butter, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attached mix first on low speed to combine the ingredients and then increase to medium speed and beat until lighter in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add the egg whites in 4 batches, mixing on medium speed after each addition until the egg white is fully incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for about 5 seconds to make sure it is well-mixed.
- Add about one-third of strawberry flour and mix on low speed until combined. Add one-half of the strawberry jam and one half of the milk. Mix on medium speed until well combined. Repeat with remaining flour, strawberry jam, and milk, with the flour as the last addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Mix on medium speed for 10 seconds to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
- Evenly divide batter between 3 pans, which will be about 590 grams per pan of cake batter. Bake the cake layers for 25-30 minutes. Alternatively, bake 2 layers at once and finish the third when they’re done. Use a cake tester to verify that the cakes are done. The cakes will also start to pull away from the sides of the pans when they are done.
- Remove the cake the from the oven and allow to cool in their pans for 20 minutes. Lightly spray a cooling rack with non-stick spray and invert the cake unto the rack. Cool the cake to room temperature, about 40 minutes.
For Strawberry Ermine Frosting
- This recipe makes 5 cups, enough for a 9-inch two-layer cake or an 8-inch three-layer cake.
- Remove the caps from the strawberries and puree in a food processor until it is smooth and there are no chunks. There should be about 3/4 cup of puree
- In a 3 or 4-quart nonreactive pan whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. In a 2-cup measuring cup combine the milk and the strawberry puree. Slowly whisk the in the strawberry-milk mixture until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly and scraping the corners of the saucepan, until the mixture boils and is very thick, about 6-10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a wide bowl or glass pie plate and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter (which should be between 65-68 degrees F) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5-minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the cooled strawberry-milk mixture and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Use a pastry brush or your finger tips to knock off any loose crumbs. Place 1 layer on a cake board or directly on a cake plate. Place the cake board or plate on a cake turntable. Add 3/4 cup of frosting and spread evenly over the cake layer around the center of the cake. Add the second layer and repeat steps with the frosting. Add the third layer on top.
- Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting to lock in remaining crumbs. This step is called crumb coating and will prevent crumbs from getting into the final frosting layer. At this point you can either refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to harden the frosting or add your final coat of buttercream. Decorate the cake with some of the remaining frosting, with fresh fruit or crumbled freeze-dried strawberries.