I kept hoping September would be hot and I’d get to do a little more swimming in the lake, especially since I got some wild swim shoes or water shoes or whatever they’re called! I waited and waited for them and now it’s cool. There’s no denying fall is in the air, and right on time this year and I’m already thinking about pears and apples. In the meantime, though, I’m pulling out one last summer hurrah. I’m breaking out with this Strawberry Dream Cake.
See, my son’s girlfriend couldn’t stop raving about a strawberry cake she’d had at a shower and then she found a picture that she thought looked like it. And so we ran right out and got strawberries. It was a couple of days though before I actually got to the Strawberry Dream Cake, but oh was it good and worth the wait.
About Strawberry Dream Cake:
The cake we based my Strawberry Dream Cake on is this a Southern Living Strawberry Dream Cake. As you can see, mine looks (and is) a bit different, and I’ll explain why as we go. But first, let me tell you a little more about the cake. I’m gonna give you a lot of detail (fair warning) but the cake’s really pretty easy, there’s just a bit to know to pull this off successfully.
What we have here are two layers of a somewhat sturdy cake. It has to be a little sturdy or the top layer won’t properly perch on the layer of strawberries. The cake’s almost like a pound cake; just a little lighter and is quite moist and lightly scented with vanilla and almond extracts. I can’t tell you how good that touch of almond is in this cake and in the frosting and how well it goes with the strawberries! And to think I almost left the little touch of almond out, except for I paid attention to one of the reviewers of the original cake.
The frosting itself is so good, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve some of it as a kind of a dip at a shower or function with strawberries as the dipper along with a few other items – and I might even have to work on that recipe in the future! I had no idea what a heavenly combo strawberry and almond are! And I might
or might not be eating one of the last pieces right now, lol! So I know what I’m talkin’ about!
So sandwiched between the cake layers is a whole row of strawberries! Those strawberries are embedded in a layer of frosting and then there’s more frosting and more strawberries on the top of the cake, just for good measure. I wanted to skip the fussiness of some of the piping around the strawberries (like on the original cake) and left the sides unfrosted, kind of like an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake. It really was the right call. The whole cake is just gorgeous, and even more so “in person” or should that be “in cake?!” Really, the photos don’t do it justice. I’d make it again just to get better photos, in better lighting and do a better job with the frosting, but maybe my “candid” shots are more true!
Making the Layered Cake Part of the Strawberry Dream Cake:
The cake itself as easy enough to make. You have to fold the lighter egg whites into the heavier base, but other than that, it was a piece of cake. (snort!) The one thing I would do differently would be to not flour the cake pan because that always gives the cake a bit of a crust as you can see. I did use parchment on the bottom of the pan and that would be enough.
I also made a little “test” cake and there is one thing that improves the cake. Wrapping the layers and resting them overnight allowed the moisture to distribute through the cake, and it was even better the next day. Kind of in the same way a quick bread improves overnight. I’d recommend baking the cake the evening before and frosting the next day.
I did make the cake in an 8″ cake pans rather than 9″ cake pans because when I got ready to make the cake I realized that my 9″ cake pans had been stolen from my house in a burglary. I’m still “discovering” things missing! But after I read reviews saying there wasn’t enough frosting, I thought it would be fine to go with a smaller diameter cake. I think the proportion of cake to frosting is just right with the 8″ but if the layers look too thick for you, feel free to make three 8″ layers and use one layer for something else. Freeze it, maybe. I don’t think to make this cake three layers tall would work out well; you’d need two layers of the strawberries and frosting and there won’t be enough stability.
Making the Frosting and Filling for the Strawberry Dream Cake:
Where I did take a lot of liberties, based on reviews I found of the Strawberry Dream Cake, was with the frosting. First of all, there were complaints that there wasn’t enough of the frosting. that the frosting didn’t hold up, wasn’t stiff enough to support the cake and strawberry layer, and didn’t cut well. I solved the first issue with my 8″ cake pans and by only frosting the top and filling the cake.
I made the cake sturdier by doing several things:
- I used 8 ounces of cream cheese rather than mascarpone because I wanted a sturdier filling; bonus – the cream cheese is going to be more cost effective unless you make your own Mascarpone. I did, but then decided to go with the sturdier cream cheese, so now I need to use my Homemade Mascarpone for something else!
- I adapted the frosting to make a thicker “filling” for the strawberry layer and then used the same mixture, lightened with more of the whipped cream as a “frosting” for the top.
- I cut the strawberries very carefully so they would all be the same height and paid attention to the angle of my knife so each would stand upright just “so.”
- As I was piping in the filling, I realized that the strawberries were a bit like a wiggly tooth. I piped a dab of the filling on the bottom of each strawberry but realized what I should have done was to just put a thin layer of the filling atop the cake before adding the strawberries. Apparently, this was in the original recipe and I missed it!
- I refrigerated the whole filled and frosted cake. Four hours at a minimum and several hours are even better. The cake was still very good two days after filling and frosting but after that became a bit dry, mostly on the bottom layer’s edges, where there’s no frosting.
Those steps made the layer of strawberry and filling a little sturdier (and very rich and delish) and the frosting on top very creamy and dreamy. The cake held up like a dream and tasted incredible; that’s probably why it’s called Strawberry Dream Cake. And the proportion of the white creamy filling and frosting with the cake seemed perfect to me.
Do make sure to use strawberries that are as uniform in size as possible. I bought two packs so I could pick and choose, then trimmed them all to the same size. I’d suggest washing the strawberries ahead by quite a while before making the cake so they will be perfectly dry. Make sure to have a use for any leftover strawberries and don’t forget the portion you trim off still has a lot of flavor. Think about adding them to a pitcher of water and making my Spa Water on a Budget for a fun treat.
Strawberry Dream Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 cup (8 oz.) salted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 3 cups (about 12 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Strawberries, for center of cake, 2 16 ounce packages
Make the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (8-inch) round, 2-inch-deep cake pans, line the bottom with parchment and spray again.
Beat the butter with a heavy-duty stand mixer at medium speed until fluffy; gradually add the sugar, beating well. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir about one-third of the egg whites into batter to lighten it; fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches. Spoon batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and the center springs back when very lightly touched, 28 to 32 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire rack, about 1 hour. Cake improves if wrapped and refrigerated overnight.
Meanwhile, before making the Filling/Frosting, cut a thin slice from stem end of each of 20 to 25 whole strawberries to form a flat base; Cut carefully, trying to keep all strawberries at the same height and cutting at a right angle so strawberries will sit flat. Set strawberries aside. Cut several strawberries into slices or slice and fan several strawberries for the top of the cake. Set aside.
Cut the top of each cake so the cakes are level. Brush off any crumbs. Set the first layer on a cake stand, cut side up.
For the Filling/Frosting and Assembly:
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Beat cream cheese with 1/3 cup of sugar until lightened. Set aside. In another bowl, beat whipping cream, vanilla and almond extracts with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
With an electric mixer, beat one-third of the whipped cream mixture into cream cheese mixture. Gently fold in about one-third more of the whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture. This will be the filling for the center of the cake. Set aside the remaining whipped cream.
Spread a very thin layer of the cream cheese/whipping cream mixture on top of the first layer of the cake. Add the strawberries to the cake, flat side down, lining up first around the outside and working toward the center. Trim the sides of the strawberries if needed to cover the top of the cake, making sure not to trim the edges that will show.
Fill a piping bag with about a cup and 1/4 of the cream cheese/whipping cream mixture. Pipe mixture between the strawberries, filling all the spaces. (If more of the cream cheese/whipping cream mixture is needed, add more.). Carefully spread a little more (about 3/4 cup) of the cream cheese/whipping cream filling across the tops of the strawberries, making sure it is level. Add the next layer of cake, cut side up.
Place any remaining cream cheese/whipping cream mixture back in the bowl. Beat to lighten. Fold in the remaining one-third of the whipping cream. Spread a thin layer on top of the top layer of cake. Add the remaining mixture on top of that. Refrigerate for four hours (minimum) or longer. Before serving, add sliced and/or fanned strawberries to the top center of the cake.