by Sarah Lagrotteria
I confess that I like making cakes even more than I like eating them. There’s something about a perfectly smooth frosted cake just waiting for colorful candles, a dusting of coconut flakes or the perfect blooms that makes my heart flutter. I love how pristine they look when all white or a deep dark chocolate. And the process of smoothing and re-smoothing frosting over the top and sides…it gives me chills.
While my personal cake preference runs toward chocolate or French almond cakes (or chocolate almond cake!) I think the best cake to make for a celebration is a strawberry whipped cream cake. You can use your favorite cake recipe (or cake mix, of which I mightily approve if you add some orange or lemon zest), and make this frosting in minutes. Just be sure to have leave time for the finished cake to chill before your party starts.
Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake
1 9-inch round vanilla cake (can use pound cake or angel food, whatever you prefer), sliced horizontally into 2 layers
2 pints fresh strawberries, washed hulled and cut into thin slices
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Note: Place strips of parchment paper along all 4 sides of the cake stand or serving platter, leaving the center of the plate open—it will look like an empty square. These strips will collect any frosting that falls off the cake while you are frosting it so that your plate stays clean and your presentation perfect.
Place the bottom cake round on top of the parchment-lined cake plate.
Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to high. Pour in the vanilla extract as the cream whips and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Whip the cream into firm peaks. If the cream gets too soft at any point during frosting, just whip it some more.
Add a generous dollop or two of the cream to the center of the cake and use an off-set spatula to spread the cream evenly over the top and sides of the cake. The cream layer should be abundant, so feel free to add as needed.
Use half your strawberry slices to decorate the top of the cake round—I like concentric circles—then top the strawberries with a small dollop of cream.
Place the second cake layer over the cream and strawberries. Add the remaining cream as needed to the top of the cake, smoothing the cream out and over the top edges and down the sides. When the entire cake is coated with thick cream, hold the off-set spatula sideways at a 45-degree angle away from the cake, so the side of the spatula is just touching the cream. Holding the spatula steady, slowly rotate your cake plate so that the spatula edge smoothes out the sides of the cake in one long sweep.
Use the spatula at an angle to smooth out the top of the cake and decorate as desired with the remaining berry slices. Gently pull the parchment slips out from under the cake. Chill until just before serving.