More than just Strawberry and Cream Layer Cake
I’ve been waiting tables for three years now at the same restaurant, and in the most recent year, the company has been hiring full timers from the Philippines, China and Myanmar. It’s probably because no one in Singapore wants to work in the restaurant industry full time as servers or kitchen staff, or even as Supervisors or Restaurant Managers. I have to admit, although I’ve been in this for three years, I can’t imagine myself in restaurant operations as a career. The hours are long, and weekends are burnt.
Jenny turns 21 this year – my age. She’s one of our newer full timers from China, and she came over to Singapore alone. She’s bound by contract for three years, and this is only her first year here. It’s also her first birthday away from home, and we – the people at the store – tried to make it something special for her. It’s not easy for her, afterall. Hopefully it will help to take her mind off home for a bit.
We planned a surprise for her at work, involving tea lights, a cake, a bunch of flowers and various gifts from different people. It wasn’t difficult, she is well-liked at the store and people are more than willing to pitch in to help out. (:
Here’s my bit… I made her a strawberries and cream layer cake.
The components were simple – 2 layers of basic yellow cake, a filling of swiss meringue buttercream with chopped strawberries, a frosting of non-dairy whipped cream, and the entire thing is topped with chocolate-dipped strawberries and a shower of chopped dark chocolate.
It took me about 3.5 hours to put the entire thing together.
1-2-3-4 cake from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 3 9″ layers or 24 cupcakes
1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temp
3 cups self raising flour (1 cup self raising = 1/2 tsp salt + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + enough AP flour to make up 1 cup; whisk together)
1 cup milk, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven: Preheat to 350F or 180C.
Prep: Spray 3 9″ round cake pans with non stick spray, or butter them; line with parchment, and spray/butter the parchment.
* My notes on this recipe:
- I used only two thirds of the recipe to make 2 9″ layers and 4 cupcakes, because I wanted thin layers.
- The thinner layers took only about 20 mins, and the cupcakes took about 15 mins.
- I used 3 eggs because mine were small eggs. Worked out fine.
- This is the second time I’ve baked this 1-2-3-4 cake and it was drier the first time. Do not overbake! As long as the toothpick comes out totally clean, the cake is done, even though it might seem a tad soft and custardy.
- Otherwise, this is a great basic yellow cake. Very tasty and easy to work with.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting (1-2-3 SMBC)
(enough to fill 1 9″ cake, and 4 cupcakes)
1.5 oz egg whites, room temp
3 oz sugar
4.5 oz unsalted butter, cool but not hard, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 cup chopped strawberries, mix together with 2 tbsp sugar and set aside (less sugar if your strawberries are sweet enough. Taste first!)
(Basically, use a ratio of 1 part egg white, 2 parts sugar and 3 parts unsalted butter for the buttercream)
1. Using a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk egg whites and sugar together until the sugar is totally melted. I don’t own a candy thermometer, so I don’t know what temperature that is, but I just dip a (clean) finger into the meringue and rub a bit of the mixture between two fingertips. If you don’t feel any grainy sugar, it’s done. It should look thick, shiny and sticky, like marshmallow cream. It took me about 10 mins of constant whisking. Don’t stop whisking or else you’re gonna get bits of dried egg white on the sides of your bowl.
2. Leave the meringue on the counter top to cool off, until the meringue feels cooler than your hand when you touch it. You don’t want it melting the butter when you add it in. You could also whisk it until it becomes cooler than your hand. I use the lazy way of waiting (while watching TV).
3. Using an electric mixer, beat in the butter piece by piece into the meringue. You want to fully incorporate 1 piece before adding another. At a point in time, the buttercream may look curdled/like soup, but no worries, just keep beating and it will come together.
4. Strain the chopped strawberries of any extra liquid, and fold it into the buttercream.
5. Store at room temperature. Use on same day if possible. Do not refrigerate before filling your cake or it will harden in the fridge and become very difficult to use and spread.
1 1/2 cups non dairy whipping cream, very cold
3 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 tsp non flavoured gelatin, sprinkled over 1 tbsp water to soften (optional – this is to stabilise the cream so that it doesn’t collapse so quickly at room temp. Singapore is hot; average temperature is about 30C.)
1. Chill your bowl and beaters for 30 mins. They should be cold.
2. Place gelatin/water in microwave and zap on medium at 10 sec intervals until gelatin is melted. Set aside and let it cool to room temp.
3. In your cold bowl, use an electric mixer and beat the cold cream until foamy and slightly thick.
4. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar until soft peaks form. At this point, add in flavourings (e.g. vanilla extract) if using.
5. With your mixer on, slowly pour in the gelatin and beat until cream reaches stiff peaks.
6. Store in refrigerator until ready to use, and also to let the gelatin set.
Assembly is easy, just sandwich the filling using the two layers, leaving a half-inch border so that the filling doesn’t squish out. Frost with the whipped cream and decorate as desired. I piped a circle of cream around the top, placed a ring of chocolate dipped strawberries around the cake, and dumped some chopped chocolate in the middle. I tried piping Jenny’s name in the middle, but failed miserably. Oh well. (: Adds on to the “charm”. Riggghhtt.