Berry season may technically be ending soon, but we are a household of strawberry lovers year round. Nothing beats a juicy strawberry when it comes to a naturally sweet treat. My family is always up for a bowl of strawberries as a snack, side item or dessert. They are such a staple in our kitchen that one of my daughter’s first words was strawberry. Not that I understood or recognized her pronunciation of strawberry at first…. it sounded more like “shy-ee”. She would say “shy-ee, shy-ee” in this sweet little singsong voice for months before I put two and two together. And when I finally clued in to what she was saying — we both celebrated — with some strawberries! Fast forward a few years and we’re certainly all on the same strawberry loving page when it comes to this cake!
Today’s cake builds upon the flavors of a classic dessert, strawberry pie. We start with a heavenly pound cake recipe that’s baked with graham cracker crumbs inside, giving us that delicious taste of a graham cracker crust. It’s filled with layers of a sweetened Swiss meringue buttercream and just a light slight smear of strawberry jam. Then comes the frosting! This fresh strawberry buttercream not only tastes like summer on a plate, but gives us a perfectly pink cake with tiny flecks of visible strawberry. You’ve gotta love it when the icing itself looks this beautiful. The only thing missing is a mound of strawberries on top…. and the forks!
STRAWBERRY PIE CAKE
a recipe by Carrie Sellman
For the Graham Cracker Cake:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 9 sheets)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325. Prepare four 8″ round pans with butter, flour and parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Whisk together milk, cream, eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high using the paddle attachment. Cream until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add one third of the dry ingredients. Pour in one half of the milk mixture.
- Add another third of the dry ingredients. Pour in the remaining milk mixture followed by the end of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for about 25 – 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
- Let cool for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
For the Sweetened Buttercream Filling and Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
10 egg whites
3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely chopped strawberry puree
- In bowl of stand mixer combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until temperature reaches 160 on a candy thermometer and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. (The mixture should feel smooth when rubbed between your fingers).
- Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high, whisk until stiff peaks form and mixture is fluffy and glossy, about 10 minutes. Your bowl should no longer feel warm to the touch.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing until icing is smooth and silky, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Divide buttercream in two, reserving one half to use for the filling.
- Mix strawberry puree to the other half of buttercream, creating the strawberry frosting.
For the Assembly:
- Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam onto the bottom layer of cake.
- Add a layer of plain buttercream onto the jam.
- Top with the second layer of cake and repeat until all four layers are stacked.
- Frost outside of cake with the strawberry buttercream.
- Top with a swirl of plain buttercream and mound of strawberries.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.