February 10, 2021
When I couldn’t sleep last night I started thinking about cake. That’s a problem I have as a devoted baker. I think about cake a lot. Last night I thought about a plain vanilla cake. Of course it needed a frosting. And I think because Valentine’s Day is coming up, strawberry frosting popped into my head. Perfectly pink!
I decided to use the dehydrated strawberries that my kids love to snack on to get my strawberry flavor and color. Since we are not a house that enjoys buttercream I knew the frosting base had to be something else. Whipped cream seemed like a great compromise.
I love the way this cake turned out. A single round layer, coated in pretty pink whipped cream. I used a recipe from Nancy Silverton where she adds either creme fraiche or sour cream to the whipped cream to enhance the frosting’s staying power as well as ensure a fuller flavor. It made a beautiful shiny frosting perfect for spreading. I added 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar, but feel free to add more if you want a sweeter frosting. The dehydrated strawberries themselves are a touch tart, so they lend no sweetness to to whipped cream.
Vanilla Snack Cake with Whipped Strawberry Frosting
For The Cake:
1 3/4 cups bleached cake flour, such as Swans Down (Red Box)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup egg yolks ( I used 5), at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, room temperature (any percentage will do)
For the Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup -1/2 cup confectioners sugar ( I used 1/4 cup - see explanation in introduction)
4 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 bag (34 grams) freeze dried strawberries ( I used Trader Joes Brand)
For the Cake:
Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare an 8 inch or 9 inch round cake pan with pan spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Trace the pan and cut out the parchment to fit the shape of the pan.)
Sift the flour.
Combine the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed cream until fluffy and light for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater half way through mixing. With the mixer running add the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla.
On low speed add a third of the flour, followed by a third of the milk. Alternate between the two allowing each addition to be roughly incorporated. Once it’s smooth, scrape down the bowl again and fold the batter with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is well mixed. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top so it’s even.
Bake 35-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and when a skewer is inserted, a few crumbs stick to it. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a metal rack. Cool completely before making the frosting.
For the Frosting:
Crush the freeze dried strawberries in a a food processor or a blender. Pour the berries into a sifter or fine sieve and remove any large chunks that don’t get sifted (You can throw these bigger chunks out, but I saved them and sprinkled them on the finished cake.)
When the cake is ready to be frosted, using the whisk attachment of a standing mixer, start whisking the cream and sugar on a low speed. Increase the speed to medium high and continue to whip, stopping when the cream holds soft peaks. ( When you put a spoon in it the cream and lift up it makes a mountain shape, but the top of the mountain folds over.)
Using a hand whisk, combine the creme fraiche or sour cream with the whipped cream. Add the sifted strawberries and continue to whisk until fully incorporated and the mixture is pink.
Using an offset spatula frost the cake with the whipped cream.