Fluffy white cake, creamy pudding-like filling and fresh strawberries. Is there anything tastier? This is a great early summer recipe if you can find fresh berries from your local market. The juicier berries should go inside the cake, and use the less ripe berries to slice for the outside so they have more structure. I actually use an egg slicer like this to make them all uniform. This cake only needs about 2/3 of the pastry cream mixture, which is perfect if you want to make a classic fruit tart to use the rest.
Makes one 9-inch cake
- 12 tablespoons (169 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 ½ cups (495 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 ¾ cups (428 grams) cake flour
- 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups (420 grams) milk
- 6 egg whites (180 grams)
Lightened Pastry Cream
- 2 cups (480 grams) milk, divided
- ½ cup (60 grams) cornstarch
- 4 egg yolks (74 grams)
- 1 large egg (50 grams)
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (231 grams) heavy cream
- 3 cups (693 grams) cold heavy cream
- ½ cup (58 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 pint (340 grams) fresh strawberries, divided
Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour three 9-inch pans and line with parchment. Set aside.
- In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- In a separate mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and egg whites.
- Turn the mixer to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture in two to three batches, scraping down the bowl as necessary to combine.
- Distribute the mixture evenly into the prepared pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Pastry Cream:
- In a medium mixing bowl, add about ½ cup of the milk with the cornstarch, egg yolks and egg and whisk to combine.
- In a medium saucepan, add the rest of the milk along with the sugar, set over medium heat and whisk occasionally to melt the sugar. Bring to a simmer.
- Once at a simmer, slowly add the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously to temper. Add back to the saucepan and continue to whisk as it thickens. Once the mixture thickens, cook and whisk for another minute.
- Remove from heat, add the butter and then the vanilla, whisking to combine. Transfer mixture to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap allowing it to adhere to the surface to prevent a skin and cool completely in the refrigerator.
- In a clean bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Add 1/3 of the mixture to the pastry cream to lighten it and then fold in the balance. Use immediately or stash in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to one day.
Make the Whipped Cream:
- In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whip to firm peaks. Use immediately.
Assemble the Cake:
- Level the cakes and place one cake on a cake board. Using a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch tip, pipe the outside edge with whipped cream.
- Fill the cake with about 1/3 of the pastry cream mixture. Dice about ½ cup of strawberries and sprinkle over the top.
- Place another layer of cake on the first and repeat the whipped cream, pastry cream and strawberry steps.
- Layer the final cake on top and frost the sides and top with the balance of whipped cream. Slice strawberries to decorate the sides. Store in the refrigerator if not serving immediately. Best served the same day but will last another day or two in the refrigerator.