24 April 2020

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CAKE

Fresh strawberries will always be one of life's simple pleasures. I still remember the happiness when I would spot them for the first time at the farmers' market in spring. Red, sweet, fragrant, perfect.
Even though these days strawberries are available year-round, for me, the sweetest ones will always be the early spring ones. And although ripe, they still remain a tad tangy, which pairs wonderfully with fresh lemons. Strawberries and cream, and a tall glass of lemonade. A wonderful way to spend a spring day.
This little cake truly is the epitome of spring cakes. Rich and aromatic, with its impressive ten layers, it is bursting with fresh flavours and bright colours. Equally eye-catching and delicious.
I have omitted Limoncello and strawberry liqueur, but if you are not serving it to the little ones, feel free to add a splash to each of the fillings, it will taste delightfully.


Ingredients
For the lemon cake layers
320 grams plain flour
15 grams cornflour
10 grams finely ground pistachios
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
200 grams granulated sugar
350 millilitres milk
100 millilitres vegetable oil
15 millilitres fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
For the strawberry filling
200 grams fresh strawberries
50 grams granulated sugar
40 grams cornflour
50 millilitres cold water
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
60 grams butter, softened and cubed
For the vanilla cream filling
25 grams cornflour
25 grams plain flour
150 grams granulated sugar
250 millilitres whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
60 grams butter, softened and cubed
For the decoration
150 millilitres double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams ruby chocolate
25 millilitres double cream


Preparation
To make the cake layers, start by sifting the flour into a large bowl. Sift in the cornflour and the baking soda, and whisk it briefly. Add in the sugar and pistachios, and whisk again. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, lemon juice, vanilla, and the lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Line four small round cake tins (15 cm) with baking parchment, evenly divide the batter between them, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Check the cakes with a toothpick inserted in the centre, to make sure they are done. Remove them from the oven, let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack, and let them cool completely.
To make the strawberry filling, either mash the strawberries finely or completely puree them in a blender, and pour them into a heavy-duty saucepan. Add in the sugar, cornflour, and cold water, and whisk very well. Place the pot over medium high heat, and once it starts to steam lightly, start whisking so it does not burn. Let it heat up, and then come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and fragrant. Remove from the heat, add in the vanilla, and whisk well. Add in the softened butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until everything is incorporated. Cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
While both the cake layers and the strawberry filling are cooling, make the vanilla filling. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and sift in the cornflour and the plain flour. Whisk well, add in the sugar, and whisk again. Place the pot over medium high heat, and as soon as it starts to steam, start whisking. From the moment it starts to boil, let it cook for about 3 minutes, or until it starts resembling a smooth, thick pudding. Remove from the heat, add in the vanilla, and whisk well. Add in the softened butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
When everything is at room temperature, start preparing for assembling the cake. Trim and level the cake layers, if needed, place one of them on a cake platter, add a tall acetate strip, and close a cake ring around it. Using a hand mixer, beat the strawberry filling until it becomes completely smooth, and do the same for the vanilla filling. Divide fillings into three equal pieces each. Spread a third of the strawberry filling on the first cake layer, and then very carefully spread a third of the vanilla filling on top of it. Place another cake layer on top, and repeat the process until all of the material is used up. Cover the top of the cake with cling film, and place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. To decorate, whip the double cream with the vanilla, and melt together the ruby chocolate with the double cream. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, decorate, and it is ready to be served. Yields 16 servings.

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