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 water shoes (below.) I waited and waited for them and now it’s September 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, 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 and filling in the center of the cake. 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 I paid attention to one of the reviewers of the original cake. I had no idea what a heavenly combo strawberry and almond are! I mention this just in case you’re wondering, like I did if the almond extract is odd and maybe not worth it.
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! And I might
or might not be eating one of the last pieces right now, lol! So I know what I’m talkin’ about!
Sandwiched between the cake layers is a whole row of whole strawberries! It’s so cool when you slice the cake and cut through the berries. 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.
Making the Layered Cake Part of the Strawberry Dream Cake:
The cake itself is 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 spray then parchment then more spray 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″ pans.
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 solved these issues 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 did buy more strawberries than I thought I needed to make sure mine were all pretty close in size. None went to waste – you can never have too many.
- 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 strawberry would stand upright just “so.” By laying them out, I was able to get an idea of how many strawberries are needed for the center layer.
- I put a layer of filling on top of the first cake layer then wrapped heavy aluminum foil around the cake pinning it with a clothespin. After the strawberries were added, placing the cut strawberries with the cut edges facing out, I trimmed that foil across the top using scissors. I trimmed so the top edge of the foil would be even with the tallest strawberry.
- Then I piped (a Ziploc with a trimmed corner is fine) that filling in between the strawberries, bringing that filling all the way up so it was even with the aluminum foil. That filling was carefully smoothed.
- Only then was the top layer of cake added, and a little additional cream added to the remaining filling to use for the top. I did have to be careful to dollop that top; If it were simply spread the crumbs will come off the cake. I didn’t feel this was the right place or that there was enough frosting for a crumb coat.
- Finally, I very simply laid down a border on the bottom of the cake to disguise any unsightly edges.
- I refrigerated the whole filled and frosted cake. Four hours at a minimum and several hours are even better. Before serving I removed the foil and smoothed out and cleaned up any particularly rough areas. It’s amazing that there can be a number of flaws but the final cake still “reads” spectacular.
- Only add strawberries to the top right before serving. To make the whole sliced strawberries, slice almost up to the hull several times, then push on them to separate the layers and make them look more distinct.
- By the way, the cake was still very good two days after filling and frosting but after that became a bit dry, mostly from the sides where there was no frosting.
These 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 beautifully 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 with my changes.
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.Print
Strawberry Dream Cake
- Total Time: several hours
- Yield: 8 to 12 1x
- Category: desserts 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 and top of cake, 2 16-ounce packages
- An additional 2 tablespoons sugar for the sliced strawberries
For the Cake:
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.
Using clean bowl and beaters, beat the egg whites at high speed 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.
Prepping the Strawberries & Cake for Filling & Frosting:
Meanwhile, before making the Filling/Frosting, cut a thin slice from stem end of each of 20 to 25 whole strawberries (lay them out to judge how many) to form a flat base; cut carefully, trying to keep all strawberries at the same height and cutting at an angle so strawberries will sit flat. Set strawberries aside. As the cake is put together, enough of the trimmed strawberries to fit around the outside edge of the cake layer will be sliced in half top to bottom.
In addition, waiting until about an hour before serving, cut several strawberries into slices and/or slice and fan several strawberries for the top of the cake. Set aside the fanned strawberries. Add sliced strawberries to a bowl and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons sugar.
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 down.
For the Filling/Frosting and Assembly:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Beat cream cheese with 1/3 cup of sugar until lightened. Slowly add 1 1/3 cup cream while beating with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high. Add vanilla and almond extracts and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Spread a thin layer of this filling on the top of the bottom layer of cake. Using heavy-duty foil, cut a length long enough to fit around the cake (may need to fold two pieces together), fold in half, and wrap it around the cake, clipping together the ends. Add the strawberries, using strawberries cut in half, top to bottom first. Place them cut edge out and firmly placed into the layer of filling on the outside edge of the cake. Fill the inside with the remainder of the trimmed berries, again making sure they are embedded in the filling.
Trim the foil just slightly above (1/4″ or so) the level of the strawberries. Use a piping bag and tip or a Ziploc with the corner trimmed to add the filling in between the strawberries. Add enough filling to smooth the top level with the top of the band of foil. Add the second layer of cake on top of the berries, cut side down.
Place any remaining filling (there should be a little over a cup) back into the mixing bowl. Add the remaining sugar and beat until incorporated. Slowly, beating on medium speed, add the remaining 2/3 cup cream. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks. Add this across the top in small dollops, saving about 1/2 cup to pipe around the bottom of the cake.
Refrigerate for four hours (minimum) or longer. Before serving, remove the band of foil, smooth or touch up any berries and filling between the cake layers. Arrange fanned strawberries and strawberry slices on the top center of the cake.
Note: this cake slices best with a long, thin serrated knife.
Keywords: Cake, Cream, Cream Cheese, Desserts, Frosting, Fruit Desserts, Strawberries