I relish in the predictability of pairing Champagne with strawberries. There is not a pairing more fit for each other, especially now that the strawberries are ripening and the weather is warming. As we near Easter, instead of selecting an obvious choice for dessert, I hope you choose to make this strawberry cream layer cake instead. Whether you use four layers or two, the one thing remains—it pairs beautifully with Taittinger Champagne.
If I’ve learned anything in ten years of pairing wine with food, it’s that quality outshines quantity, and yes, Champagne does go with everything, especially dessert. Taittinger has become the go-to in my household since it’s easy to find at most markets and shops, and has a bright and lively palate with charming bubbles that keeps us coming back for more. It makes for an excellent any-time Champagne and pairs perfectly with desserts. It’s bold enough to hold its own yet not overpowering to make you forget your slice of strawberry cream cake.
This strawberry cream cake is incredibly simple. The most important ingredient you’ll need to have on hand is freeze-dried strawberries (not dried and not fresh). Cakes are especially susceptible to becoming rubbery with too much moisture. The way we avoid this from happening is by removing any unnecessary moisture while still adding flavor. Hence the freeze-dried strawberries. They also make for a fun way to add some panache to the top.
The cake is flavored with strawberries two ways: first, in the batter with the addition of ¼ cup of pulverized, freeze-dried strawberries; and second, in the frosting with ½ cup of pulverized, freeze-dried strawberries. You can add or subtract as much strawberry as you want. I will say, the ¼ cup in the batter was pretty light on flavor. I was worried about the color of the cake changing dramatically but you could do more.
To add even more strawberry flavor, you could lightly sprinkle the pulverized freeze-dried strawberry in between each layer of cake after frosting. It would add for a beautiful stripe of color and more strawberry flavor. If your grocery store doesn’t carry freeze-dried strawberries, you can always order online, but I’ve found that most have it in the dried fruit and nut aisle.
This cake is pure delight in every bite. The cream cheese frosting adds a light “zing” that pairs perfectly against the crisp flavors of Taittinger Champagne. It will be the perfect ending to your Easter brunch or dinner. Plus, the recipe halves nicely and the finished cake (frosting included) freezes really well for future dessert needs.
Strawberry Cream Cake
For the Cake:
- 2 Cups of Cake Flour
- 1 Tsp salt
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- ¼ cup pulverized freeze-dried strawberry
- 4 Large Eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 TBSP Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 4 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
For the Frosting
- 1 Stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 16 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 TSP vanilla extract
- 2 pounds of confectioners sugar
- ½-1 cup pulverized freeze dried strawberries
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the center of the oven. If using the little springform pans, spray with baking pam to keep the cakes from sticking.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pulverized freeze-dried strawberry. Set aside. (To pulverize strawberries, put in a small blender or a food processor and blend until powdered).
- In a large stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light gold colored and thickened. Should take about 2 minutes at medium high speed. DO NOT OVER BEAT.
- Turn the speed down low and slowly add the dry mixture. Mix just enough to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix again briefly.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, simmer the milk. Remove pan from heat and add butter and oil, stirring until butter has melted.
- Slowly mix the hot milk-butter-oil mixture into the batter, stirring on low speed until everything is well combined.
- Divide the batter between two 8 inch pans so that it comes to 3/4’s of the way to the top. If there is extra batter.
- Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes. You want the top of the cakes to be golden honey in color and when a toothpick is inserted for it to come out clean.
- Once cooked, remove from oven, set on a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.
- Remove from pans and let cool completely (about 30 minutes) before frosting. To speed this process up, put in freezer until completely cooled.
For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer for 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, scrape the bowl well.
- Add the vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly add the confectioners sugar, one cup at a time, beating on low speed to ensure the sugar does not fly out of the bowl. Halfway through adding the sugar, add the strawberry powder. Then continue adding the confectioners sugar.
- After each addition of the confectioners sugar, scrape the bottom of the bowl extremely well.
- Let stand at room temperature until ready to frost your cake.
To Assemble the Cake
- First, be certain the cakes are completely cool. To cool quickly, pop them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before assembling.
- Using a serrated edge knife, carefully cut your cakes in half. I like positioning two baking sheets on either edge of the cake and follow the edge around so that the cake is evenly split.
- Add a dollop of frosting to the base of your serving platter. Place the top half of one of the cake halves top down on the platter so the crumb side is face up.
- Place a dollop of cream cheese frosting in the center of the cake and using an offset spatula, slowly spread the frosting out to the edge. Remove excess back to frosting bowl.
- Place the next layer onto the cake flat bottom side up. Repeat cream cheese frosting spreading. Repeat for other two layers, ensuring that the bottom flat half is the top most layer of the cake.
- When the cake is assembled, squish and twist it left or right to make sure it isn’t lopsided.
- Add a generous portion of frosting to the cake and using an offset spatula, spread the frosting all around the cake and the layers. This first pass of adding frosting is called a “crumb coat” and will be how we can get a smooth and perfect finish on our cake edges. A crumb coat should be light so that you see edges of the cake but “fill in” any gaps that the layers may have created so that it’s a solid foundation for a smoothing coat next.
- Place in fridge for half hour to let the crumb coat set.
- When set, add a generous portion of frosting to all sides of cake. Using your offset spatula to get an even edge around all sides. For remaining frosting, you may find it fun to add a pearl edge (as seen here), or use a tip to create floral motif throughout. Sprinkle any remaining strawberry powder on the cake as desired.