Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling


Strawberry cake reminds me of growing up.....and growing up we went to church every Sunday without fail.  Once per month the church congregation would have an “eatin’ meetin’” after the morning church services and we would have a pot-luck feast with all of the various delicious dishes brought by the church members.  Now, you could usually count on at least one strawberry sheet cake and one coconut cake at the eatin’ meetin’ and they were always my favorites! 

While the church lady strawberry sheet cake was delicious back in the day.......it does not hold a candle to this three layer creation from heaven!  Three layers of from-scratch vanilla cake are filled with strawberry jam, cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries.  The cream cheese frosting has just a hint of strawberry flavor and it is so deliciously creamy!  It is the perfect cake for your Summer get-together or a special birthday.

Frosting:
2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Cake:
3 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
7 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
6 tbsp plus 1/3 c seedless strawberry jam
2 1/4 lbs strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 6 cups), divided
Preparation:
First, make the frosting as follows: beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth. I used an electric mixer for this step to get the frosting nice and smooth with no lumps.  Stop every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in sugar, then jam. In a separate chilled bowl, beat the whip cream until peaks form (about the consistency of cool whip).  
Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover; chill for a couple of hours until it's firm enough to spread.  I actually cheated on this last step and just added in some actual cool whip instead of whipping my own cream.  It turned out just as good in my opinion.
Now prepare the cake while the frosting is chilling. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch high sides. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. 
I would recommend beating the remaining ingredients by hand in order to avoid over-mixing the cake.  Over-mixing results in a more dense cake that is not as light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla. Add sour cream, and beat for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in three additions, whisking to blend after each addition. Divide batter into prepared pans.
Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  The recipe says bake for 50-60 minutes, but I found that mine were ready within 30-35 minutes.  I’m not sure if it was because we are at high altitude or if it was because of the pan I used.  Check yours at 30 minutes just to be sure.  
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans, then turn cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.  Cooling the layers in the fridge for some additional time will help make the next step easier.
Using a serrated knife, divide each layer in half horizontally. Place one half, cake side down, on a cake plate. Spread 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam over the cake layer, then spread 3/4 cup of the frosting over the jam. Arrange 3/4 cup of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting in a single layer. 
Repeat with the next cake layer, jam, frosting, and strawberries. Note: The original recipe makes 4 layers and I only used 3 layers because my layers were thinner and the fourth layer was barely a layer at all!

Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread two cups of frosting over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer, then frost with remaining frosting.  I had leftover sliced strawberries that were not used in between the layers so I simply sprinkled the slices on top of the frosted cake.  
*Important note: Do not sprinkle the strawberries on top until just before serving the cake.  I made this cake the night before and sprinkled the strawberry slices on top before covering and refrigerating it - big mistake!  The juices from the slices ran down the sides of the frosting and it sort of looked like a hot mess.........although it tasted delicious!  
I think that the cake tastes best if you make it the night before your event and let the layers soak up the cream cheese filling in the refrigerator.  
Makes 12 servings.
from Bon Appetit May 2009