Strawberry-filled White Cake with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I have to start this post by saying on the morning I assembled this cake, I set a personal record for my morning commute. Normally if I am out the door by 20 minutes after the hour, I make it to work in a comfortable amount of time and I give myself a good buffer for any morning traffic I may hit. On this particular day, after I finally finished frosting and taking a shadowy picture (I have a bad habit of baking things and then never taking pictures), I left at 8:35. I was sure I would be late for my 9:00 patient. But the stars, and strawberries aligned, and I made it with 3 minutes to spare. A true miracle indeed.

I made this cake for one of the student aide’s last day of work. I decided to go with a slightly less-rich cake (I normally always gravitate to extreme chocolate) and went with a white cake with a strawberry filling and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing.

I’ve made Swiss meringue buttercream before and I’ve loved the results. The icing is satiny, silky, and incredibly easy to frost, but it can sometimes be a little finicky to make.  The most important lesson I’ve learned with this type of icing is that it will come together. It can take awhile, but it eventually forms a lusciously fluffy icing. I’ve thrown out a few batches a time or too, only to realize it could have been saved. For some great troubleshooting tips, I have referred to Shawnda’s great “how to” post on this topic.

I’ve also discovered that Swiss meringue buttercream tastes best at room temperature. Because of the unholy amount of butter in this frosting, it hardens, well… like butter, when it’s chilled. If you want to refrigerate it, it’s best to let it sit out for about 30 minutes before serving.

Happy Friday, everyone. Don’t forget to wear green this weekend. :)

Classic White Cake with Strawberry filling and Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients

For the icing

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the strawberry filling

  • 2 ½ cups coarsely chopped hulled strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

1. To make the filling, combine the strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly and crush the strawberries with the spoon as you go. Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

2. To make the frosting, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and salt in a microwave-safe bowl that is set over a pot of simmering water.  While stirring constantly, allow the mixture to reach 160° F so that the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Lower the speed to medium and add in about 2 tablespoons of butter at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate into the icing before adding more. The icing may frosting runny or curdled at this point, but fear not! Continue to beat on medium-high speed until it gets back to a fluffy and smooth textures, about 3-5 minutes more. Carefully stir in the vanilla until just combined.

3. Assemble the cake: Take one 9 inch round cake and place the rounded side down on a plate. Pipe a ring of vanilla Swiss meringue frosting around the border of the cake, creating a barrier for the strawberry filling.

Spoon the strawberry filling on top of the cake and gently spread it out evenly.

Carefully place the other 9 inch round on top.

Spread a thin layer of the Swiss meringue frosting over the cake. Allow it to harden for 15 minutes in the fridge. This is your crumb layer. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread on the remaining frosting, creating a smooth and glossy finish. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!

Source: Cake- Baking Illustrated, Filling- Food.com, Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream- Annie’s Eats, originally from Martha Stewart

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