The sun never quite sets this far north. It’s invigorating and calming all at the same time. These days we spend as much time as we can outdoors, listening to the sounds of nature and soaking in all the sunshine we were limited to during the winter months.
The garden is a lush space overflowing with green in every direction. The birds sing in the trees and the bees hum as they move from one flower to the next. We are approaching Midsummer, which in Norway is celebrated as sankthans (St Hans), a blend of older rituals and religious beliefs. Though, today the celebration typically only consists of bonfires and good food. It’s a celebration of summer, and weather permitting, is indulged in outside late into the evening to soak up every last drop of daylight before bed.
The table should acknowledge all things summery – from the food to the table settings. And this strawberry and cream layer cake is a dessert to adorn such a table . It towers in simplistic beauty. The cake itself is made with fresh strawberry compote, giving it a depth and richness. The layers are filled with whipped cream and freshly cut strawberries, providing a brightness against the sweet cake. Red dye helps the visual of this cake, otherwise it might look more of a pale grey after baking. Each bite is sweet and fresh and the perfect ending to a good meal.
This is a delightful strawberry cake, and you can serve it right away or make it a day in advance so the flavors have had a chance to blend together. Keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Fresh Strawberry & Cream Layer Cake
Serves 10 to 12
- 9 ounces (250 g) fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped, plus more for assembling
- 3 ¼ cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (224 g) butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
- 1 to 2 drops red food coloring
- 2 ½ cups (600 ml) heavy cream
- 2 ½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
For the strawberry compote, cook the strawberries in a small pan over medium-high heat for 20 minutes or until softened and reduced to ½ cup (120 ml). Set aside and let cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Cut three rounds of parchment paper so they fit perfectly in the bottom of three 8-inch (20 cm) springform pans. Butter the pans then add the parchments and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the softened butter and sugar on medium for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add in the egg whites, one at a time, and whisk until fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add in the milk and combine. Add in the flour mixture and combine. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cooled strawberry compote until fully incorporated. Fold in the red food coloring, or more as needed, until you achieve a bright pink color. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, place one of the cakes on a serving plate or platter. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream on top, spreading it to the edges of the cake, followed by slices of fresh strawberries spread out on top. Arrange the second cake on top and repeat the process of adding the whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Top with the final cake and cover with the remaining whipped cream. The cake can be served immediately or, to allow the cake to soften and soak up more flavor, made and stored in the refrigerator 1 day in advance. Decorate with strawberries and serve.
*Get inspired with another summery cake: bløtkake