blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Strawberry Tall Cake

Strawberries are something that in my opinion should only be eaten when they are in season and at their peak.  To me, they represent the best of summer.  Going out into the garden and picking a ripe strawberry and eating it while it’s still warm from the sun is one of life’s great pleasures.

This is definitely a special occasion cake.  I don't usually make a lot of layer cakes; to me, they seem a little fussy, time consuming to assemble and not the sort of thing I want to be hanging around, tempting me in the fridge.  I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new.   I didn’t follow an exact recipe except for the cake layers and improvised the rest to get the cake that I had in my head.  The basil whipped cream adds a nice herbal flavor, and really complements the strawberries.  My one complaint about this cake is that I really wanted more strawberry flavor, so I’m recommending that you use halved strawberries between the layers.  You could also do what I did and serve the slices with the leftover coulis and some sliced berries.  If you don’t want to be bothered with frosting the cake you could easily just stack the layers and dollop the whip cream on top, put a layer of berries and leave the sides unadorned.

Strawberry tall cake

Serves 12


For the cake 

  • 18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 pint of strawberries, hulled and cut in half

For the Strawberry coulis:

  • 1 cup hulled strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Basil Whipped cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves


For the cake:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three 9 inch cake pans, tapping out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, stir together milk, egg whites and vanilla extract.  In a second medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar 2 minutes until light and fluffy scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add one third of the flour mixture and one third of the milk mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Add remaining flour and milk mixtures in 2 separate batches beating well between additions to fully incorporate.  Scrape down sides of bowl, and stir by hand to finish.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.  Bake until top of cake springs back lightly when pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes.  Run a metal spatula around the outside of the pan, and invert the cakes onto a plate or greased rack.  Reinvert cakes onto cooling racks.  Let cool completely before filling.

For the coulis:

Place the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the berries soften and start to release their juices.  Remove from heat, place in a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.  Let cool completely before adding to the whipped cream.

For the whipped cream: 

Bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium heat.  Lightly bruise the basil leaves with a knife and add to the cream.  Let the mixture steep for 25 minutes, then strain the mixture and refrigerate until cold.  To finish, in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.  Starting on low speed, gradually beat in the cream.  Raise the speed to medium and whip until soft peaks form.  Add the yogurt and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cake:

Measure out two cups of the whipped cream into a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of the strawberry coulis and fold it in until well combined.  

Fold two pieces of parchment in half and tape together to form a circle, place the parchment into a 9 inch spring form pan.  Place one cake layer on a cake stand.  Spread 1 cup of the strawberry cream evenly over the top of the cake.  Place a layer of halved strawberries    on top of the cream then top with a second cake layer.  Repeat with second layer.  Top with third layer and then refrigerate for 1 hour to set the layers.  

Remove the cake from the spring form pan and spread the remaining whipped cream mixture evenly over the surface of the cake.  Decorate cake with a few strawberries and serve with the extra coulis.