Summer in Tennessee smells like strawberries. Starting at the end of April and going through mid June, they grow in an absolutely rampant fashion- cultivated in fields, gardened in yards and wild on the side of the road.
By Hannah Messinger
Some afternoons, when the sun warms the world up to 80 degrees or so, the nectarous scent permeates my mind to the point that all I can think about is: strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream, strawberry compote, strawberry chutney, strawberry pie, and on and on and on.
More times than not, my mind lands on strawberry cake.
Here in the South, traditional strawberry cake is made with lots of sugar, strawberry Jello mix and frozen strawberries in syrup. The crumb is tender and intensely sweet. Each bite is molten with the juice from the berries. In my house, it’s a dessert that signifies the start of Summer. And isn’t that the best feeling, knowing that Summer is finally here?
- ½ cup (two sticks) salted butter
- 1 cup (about 7 ounces) raw cane sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temp
- 2 pounds strawberries, divided
- 3 cups (13.5 ounces) low protein flour*
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 ounces (one small package) strawberry gelatin
- ¾ cup 2% buttermilk
- 1 pint (cold) whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour two 8" cake pans.
- Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time.
- Pulse one pound strawberries in food processor until chunky, but not pureed. Add to bowl.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and gelatin. Fold half of it into wet ingredients, followed by buttermilk and the other half. If your batter looks broken, that's okay- it's just the strawberries.
- Let batter rest 15 minutes. Pour evenly into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, beat cream until semi-stiff peaks form and slice remaining strawberries.
- Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes before flipping onto a rack. This is a very delicate cake, so be gentle. When layers are completely cool, decorate with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Serve immediately after frosting. If you're planning on transporting this cake, bring layers and whipped cream and assemble on site.