When I was younger I refrained from eating strawberries because every time I did I broke out in hives. I used to say I was allergic. Well, that depends on how you define allergic: does one or two hives count?
Never mind that now because I devoured a large piece of this cake I made when we were invited over to friends’ for a barbecue the other day … and nothing happened. Actually, I’ve eaten strawberries innumerable times since I grew out of my paranoiac pre-teen years and I haven’t seen a single hive since.
Okay, okay. I’ll stop carrying on about my possible allergies already and get back to this amazing cake. I slightly adapted a recipe on Epicurious.com when putting together this cake. Light, airy (and butterless) cake layers are brushed with a simple cardamom sugar syrup, smothered in freshly whipped heavy cream/Greek yogurt and adorned with bright red strawberries. It’s 7:44 a.m. and I wish I had a slice leftover lingering in the fridge. No worries, this cake was SO good I will be making it again soon, very soon. Quite possibly this coming weekend. Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. S-U-M-M-E-R! And believe me, this cake screams summer.
Note:I only have two 9-inch round cake pans and although this recipe calls for three layers, I was too lazy to bake the first two, cool one cake, remove it from the pan, clean the pan, then bake the third layer. So, I piled the batter into the two cake pans. It wasn’t a disaster per se, but the layers weren’t exactly as pretty as they should have been.
And instead of lining cake pans with parchment to ensure a smooth finish, I grease my cake pans, place them in the refrigerator (greased), remove them just before I am ready to fill them, dust with flour and then fill with batter. The cold butter/margarine/shortening used to grease the cake pans prevents the cake from sticking.
Strawberry, Cardamom and Cream Cake — Τούρτα με Φράουλες, Κάρδαμο και Σαντιγύ
Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious.com
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
5 to 6 cardamom pods
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven racks in upper third and lower third of oven. Grease cake pans and place them in the fridge until ready to fill with batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, milk, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth. Add the flour and salt and stir until combined.
With an electric mixer, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt at high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating at medium speed until the egg whites hold stiff glossy peaks, about 2 minutes more.
Fold the egg white mixture into the batter a little at a time to just lighten it, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Remove the cake pans from the refrigerator and dust each cake pan with flour. Pour batter into the cake pans and bake, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until cakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center of each comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes, then invert onto racks and cool cakes completely.
Make syrup while cakes cool:
Bring water, sugar and cardamom to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until reduced to about 1 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove cardamom pods and cool completely. Syrup can be made up to 1 week ahead (cool, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use).
Make filling once cakes and syrup are cool:
Beat together heavy cream, Greek yogurt, sugar and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until cream just holds stiff peaks.
Prick cake layers all over with a toothpick and then brush or spoon syrup, little by little, evenly over each layer.
Transfer 1 layer (flat side up) to a serving platter, then spread with cream. Arrange some sliced strawberries in 1 layer over cream. Turn the next layer over and spread cream over top, then place it–cream side down–over the layer of strawberries. If using three layers continue layering cream and strawberries as with previous cake layers. Spread top with remaining cream and fan out remaining strawberries over top. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve (I refrigerated it just under 3 hours before serving).