It is almost strawberry season. We luckily live in California where strawberries are available in abundance. It also happened to be my brother’s birthday and I wanted to bake him a simple cake. My family is Chinese which means we do not like sweet desserts. The typical buttercream frosting would be way too sweet for my family to enjoy. Even swiss meringue buttercream would be too sweet. So how could I come up with a cake that would be transportable (an hour drive), take advantage of the strawberries, and not be too sweet?
I made a strawberry cream cake topped with dark chocolate ganache covered strawberries. It went over well and was relatively easy to make. For the base cake I looked at recipes from Epicurious as well as Cooks Illustrated. In the end I used the cake recipe from Cooks Illustrated because it uses less eggs. However, instead of a 9″ pan which I don’t own, I used two 8″ pans with one filled with 2/3 of the filling and the other pan filled with the remaining 1/3. This allowed me to have a total of three layers. I also used the low sugar strawberry jam and fresh strawberries for the filling. You can use the strawberry filling method from the Cooks Illustrated recipe instead.
For the frosting, I wanted to use mascarpone with stabilized whipped cream. I highly recommend stabilizing whipped cream whenever you use it to frost cakes. This frosting was a little loose when I made it, and it could have benefited from a 2 hour rest in the refrigerator before I piped it. Unfortunately I only had 30 minutes to cool it before piping, so I had to periodically stick the piping bag in the freezer to get a rest from my hot hands. As you can see from the picture, the frosting was stabile enough to handle decorative piping, but I don’t know if it would handle piped flowers.
I think this cake improved after resting in the refrigerator overnight. The cake and frosting get to firm up and the flavors meld together well.
Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting
Summary: A light cake reminiscent of strawberry shortcake
- 1 ¼ cups cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
- 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, about 2 quarts, washed, dried and stemmed
- 4-6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kirsch
- pinch table salt
Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting
- 16 oz mascarpone cheese
- ¾ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream
- 1 teaspoons powdered gelatin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour round 9 by 2-inch cake pan or 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. Alternatively, prepare two 8-inch pans.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
- In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds.
- Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared 9-inch pan or 1/3 into one 8-inch pan and 2/3 into another 8-inch pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure cake is just starting to brown.
- Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.
- FOR THE STRAWBERRY FILLING: Halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). In workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups) or roughly chop.
- In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine.
- Set aside until cake is cooled.
- FOR THE FROSTING: In a large mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Put the powdered gelatin and water into a separate small bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Place small bowl with gelatin into water bath and heat until gelatin melts completely.Remove from water bath.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer or a medium bowl, begin to beat heavy whipping cream. While mixer whisk is beating the heavy whipping cream, slowly drizzle the gelatin water while the beaters are beating. Beat whipping cream into medium stiff peaks, taking care not to over whip. Fold in the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until incorporated.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours to allow it to firm up.
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ganache
Summary: A nice ganache for dipping strawberries
- 12 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Put chopped chocolate into a bowl. The finer the chopping, the less mixing you’ll have to do to get it smooth.
- Bring the heavy cream to a boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.
- Stir until smooth.
- When dipping strawberries, make sure the strawberries are very dry and that you scrape off the chocolate from the side you plan to rest the strawberry on.
- Place the strawberry on a pan lined with parchment paper.
- Once all the strawberries are dipped, place pan with parchment paper into refrigerator.