1.2ozpackage of freeze-dried strawberries, or 1/3 cup strawberry jam
red food color, optional
1cupstrawberry preserves, for filling
decorative sprinkles, for garnishing
Making the Vanilla Cake Layers:
Preheat the oven to 350F/177C. Line an 8x8-inch square pan and an 8-inch round pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with a non-stick baking spray. Set the pans aside.
Place the unsalted butter into a large mixing bowl and melt the butter in the microwave. To the melted butter, add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Beat the ingredient together for a few minutes until a smooth mixture forms.
Next, combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the cake batter, then beat for about a minute, just until a smooth batter forms.
Using a ladle, split the cake batter between the two pans, ensuring that the batter is at the same level in both pans.
Bake the cake layers in the preheated oven at 350F for 28 to 32 minutes (for round pan) and about 34 minutes (for the square pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack.
Making the Strawberry Buttercream:
Place the softened butter into a mixer bowl with the flat beater attached. The butter should be just barely soft, not melted! If the butter is too soft, place it back into the refrigerator for 20 to 30minutes.
Beat the butter on high speed for 7 to 9 minutes, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl often, until the butter is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla, heavy cream, and powdered sugar next. Start on a slow speed, then mix on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until a very fluffy frosting forms. Save about ½ cup of the plain white frosting for later.
Pulse the freeze dried strawberries through a food processor, then add the powder into the buttercream. Start on a slow speed, then mix on high speed for about a minute, until the frosting is uniform.
Assembling the Cake:
Using a serrated knife, clean up the edges of the cooled cake layers, cutting away the caramelized ends. Next, level the top of each layer, then split the layers in half. Also, split the round layer down the middle, creating two halves.
Place your cake board onto a turn table, if you’re using one. You can also wrap a large cutting board with foil instead. Place one layer of the square cake onto a corner of the board, then place two halves of the round layer on either side, creating a heart shape. Watch my video tutorial to see how it’s done!
Spread a thin layer of the buttercream onto the cake, gluing the pieces together. Transfer about 1 cup of the buttercream into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip; I used Ateco #847. Pipe a barrier around the edge of the cake; this will keep the jam from coming out the sides.
Fill the inside of the cake with a generous amount of strawberry preserves, spreading it to the edges.
Add the second layers of the cake, pressing them gently into place.
Frosting & Garnishing the Cake:
Apply a thin crumb coat layer of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it with an off-set spatula. Place the cake into the refrigerator to cool for about 20 minutes.
Next, apply a final coat of buttercream around the edges only, so that the cake isn’t visible through the frosting.
Transfer the remaining strawberry frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip; I used Ateco #823 and #847. Transfer the reserved white buttercream into another bag; I used a French star tip #4.
Watch my video tutorial to see how I applied all the dollops of frosting on the top! Be creative and a variety of dollops, stars and swirls to the top. Garnish the cake at the end with fun and decorative sprinkles.
Set the cake into the refrigerator to chill if you’re not serving right away.