A Southern Grace: tis the season...

June 23, 2013

tis the season...


...strawberry season, that is. Yep, there are no less than 5 trucks set up in random places in my area selling fresh strawberries out of the back. They're good strawberries, too, and I can't get enough.

This is my second visit to Napletonia, and while my earlier cake was quite tasty, I think this one is even better. It's not a simple cake to put together, but it's doable. You can make the cake layers several days in advance and just keep them in the freezer until you're ready to assemble the masterpiece. Also, you can save a little time by splitting each type of cake batter into two pans rather than having to torte a single layer (though that's certainly allowed).

There isn't a single component of this cake that doesn't sing. In fact, they all sing well both as solo artists and in harmony with each other, and that's fairly rare. The strawberry cake layers are fantastically flavorful, the chocolate cake is soft, moist, and fluffy, and I always get excited when I see flecks of vanilla bean seeds in anything. I like how the jelly seeps into the cake and pulls everything together. Methinks you can impress even the toughest critic with this beaut.

While it's not difficult to slice the cap off of a strawberry, I've found that nothing makes hulling easier than the OXO Good Grips Strawberry Huller.It's just well-made and saves a person time and, more importantly, juicy, delicious strawberry flesh.

Neapolitan Cake, Version 2.0
Serves 12-15
Strawberry cakes:
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped strawberries
Chocolate cakes:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup warm coffee
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla bean buttercream frosting:
  • 16 ounces butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 10 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • About 3/4 cup strawberry jelly or jam
First, make the strawberry cakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Fold in the strawberries, then evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake cakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

To make the chocolate cakes, keep your oven at 350 degrees F. Spray or grease two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

To make the frosting, first beat the softened butter for a minute or two to smooth it out. Add the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean and blend them in. Next add the milk and powdered sugar and beat the frosting until no lumps remain, scraping often. Add more milk or sugar as needed.

To assemble this cake, place one layer of chocolate cake on the cake stand or board. Apply a thin layer of strawberry jelly, about 1/4 cup. Top the jelly with a thin layer of vanilla bean frosting, then put one of the layers of strawberry cake on top of that. Add another 1/4 cup of jelly and some more frosting, then repeat using the other cake layers. Apply the frosting on the sides and top of the cake and decorate as desired. It's good to let this cake sit awhile to let the jelly juices soak in and soften everything up.


Half Baked said...

Yum!I imagine after a bite of that I'd start singing too! That cake looks heavenly!

Velva said...

OMG! This looks (and no doubt tastes) divine. Beautiful.

Strawberry season has come and gone here in north Florida.

Happy summer.


lisa is cooking said...

I love the thought of the jelly juices soaking into the cake layers. This looks delightful! And, I've been thinking I need a strawberry huller. Glad to hear it works well.

scrambledhenfruit said...

That cake is singing like a choir! Strawberries are gone here, but there are plenty in the supermarket. :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh I do love strawberries in a cake and this looks divine! And you've reminded me that I have a strawberry huller!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful cake! It looks really heavenly.



Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

How I wish strawberries were available right now, this cake looks delicious :)

Choc Chip Uru

Alicia Foodycat said...

Fresh strawberries! I am so impressed that enough survived to make a cake.

Beth said...

Oh my gosh - I am loving that cake! It looks spectacular inside and out.

Caroline Taylor said...

I love the idea of this cake, can't get enough of strawberries either!

Pam said...

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my chin. It looks amazing. Seriously amazing.

Unknown said...

Omg Grace!!! This sounds wooooonderful. And it looks so beautiful, I love the contrasting colors and the brightness of the bits of berry!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

It certainly looks impressive Grace.

Blond Duck said...

I'm like a desperate strawberry fiend here. Sometimes I get a good box and sometimes, like the one I just got, it's all bitter.

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

This cake looks so good! What a lovely way to use some of the strawberry bounty right now. It looks perfect!

Joanne said...

Maybe you can send some of those strawberry trucks over to NYC...because we have NONE here!!

I love the Neapolitan flavor trilogy...the best.

Dianne @ Sweet Journey Home said...

Too bad I just can't reach through the monitor screen and have a slice to go with this fresh cup of coffee! ;-) It all looks soooo good!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I love strawberry season! And I'd love a slice of that cake too, please...

Juliana said...

This cake looks great Grace...I still see lots of strawberry here...yum!
Have a great week :D

Emily said...

Oh man! This cake looks so good! Perfect for summer.

Erica said...

I am drooling here,Grace! That cake looks delicious!Great pictures!

Katerina said...

The strawberry season is gone here and I can't find them anymore! The cake looks absolutely mouthwatering!

Gloria Baker said...

Of course Grace look absolutely delicious !! love it!!

Barbara said...

Now that's an amazing cake! And the frosting dripping down the sides.....yum. I agree, strawberries are fabulous this summer; I've never made a strawberry cake. I better do something about that ASAP. Love the idea of chocolate teamed with it..sort of like those chocolate-covered strawberries.

I Wilkerson said...

Both of my CSAs started strawberry deliveries this week--hooray! You cake is beautiful!

Carolyn Jung said...

You are so lucky to be surrounded by strawberry vendors. Man, I need a neighborhood like that! LOL

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Oh how I adore strawberry season! This cake looks fantastic :)

Nikki said...

#@&%, your cake looks goood. Mmm mmm mmm.