Okay, we’re not gonna lie. You’ll see that the photos of the cake are cropped. Hmmm, why can’t we see the whole cake? That is because this cake is SO GOOD that a certain Luscious baker ATE a piece before there was a chance to take photos. We won’t say who, because we’re sure she is VERY SORRY, but that’s what happens when you have someone with two first names in your organization.
But hey, it’s like this: when locally grown strawberries are ripe and in season, they are so perfect as is, it’s a shame to cook them. Strawberry shortcake is a classic presentation for fresh berries, but we love the tastes, textures and colors of this pretty cake even more: golden butter cake with a subtle cornmeal crunch, tart lemon syrup, fluffy whipped cream, and those juicy red berries. You might have to eat a piece before dinner, too- call it Quality Assurance.
for the cake
2 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup cornmeal
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ¾ cups sugar
juice and zest of 1 large lemon
1 cup buttermilk
for the syrup
juice and zest of 3 large lemons
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 lb strawberries, rinsed
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, very cold (it will whip up better when cold)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare two 9” round cake pans: grease pans and dust with cornmeal.
Thoroughly whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter with a hand mixer until fluffy, then mix in the sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula. Mix in juice and zest of one lemon. Add flour mixture in three parts alternating with buttermilk in two parts. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean with just a few crumbs. Allow cakes to cool.
Mix together the juice and zest of 3 lemons, the water, and sugar in a small saucepan, cook over medium heat until bubbling. When cakes are cool, carefully remove from pans by running a thin knife around the side of the pan and invert each cake on to a plate. Poke all over with a toothpick, and pour half the lemon syrup over one layer, and the remaining syrup over the other layer. Allow syrup to soak in for 15 minutes before assembling cake.
Slice berries– thick slices are good, or just cut small berries in half. Place in a glass bowl and toss with 1/3 cup sugar.
Using a handmixer, whip the cream with the powdered sugar until thick.
Assemble the cake: spread one layer with 2/3 of the whipped cream, then place 2/3 of the berries over the whipped cream. Place the 2nd cake layer on top. Place remaining whipped cream on top of the 2nd layer, and and top with remaining berry slices. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time.