And it tasted pretty amazing, too.
This is a great special-occasion cake, but it's not that hard to make. I sliced the layers into halves, horizontally, to make four layers, but you could leave it as a two-layer cake.
I used the Classic Yellow Cake recipe from The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook by King Arthur Flour, and the pastry cream recipe from that book as well.
I ended up with a lot more pastry cream than I needed, but I found other uses for it, so that was fine.
And for the frosting, I used a basic recipe (below), and used gel colors to tint the buttercream with pink and yellow.
For the strawberry filling, I wanted something thick enough so it would hold up well inside the cake without getting smashed under the weight of the layers and the frosting.
So something cooked and jammy seemed appropriate.
But ... I also wanted fresh strawberry flavor.
I added sliced fresh strawberries to the cooked, chilled jam, so it had the thickness and cooked jamminess I was looking for, AND the bright flavor of fresh strawberries.
I thought it was pretty darned good.
Strawberry Cake Filling
1 pound strawberries, divided, cleaned cored, and sliced
Small splash of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant pectin
To make the strawberry filling:
Place half of the strawberries into a heavy saucepan along with the water and salt. Cook, stirring as needed until the strawberries soften.
Mash them well, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if needed.
Pass the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer and discard the seeds that you've strained out.
Add the instant pectin to the strawberry sauce and stir well to combine. Add the remaining sliced strawberries and stir to coat them with the sauce.
Refrigerate until chilled. You can make this a day or two in advance, if you like.
This is enough to make one filling layer - if you need more, the recipe can be doubled.
If you don't need more, you might want to make extra, anyway. This is good on ice cream, for strawberry shortcake, or on pancakes or waffles.
Totally worth making extra, even if you aren't making any cake.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
1 cup butter (or you can use part or all shortening)
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pounds powdered sugar
Milk, as needed
Combine the butter and cream cheese and beat until smooth and light. You can use your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand beater in a large bowl. Add the salt and vanilla and beat in.
Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and beat well after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, adding a few tablespoons of milk, if needed, to reach the consistency you're looking for.
Note: You can cut back on the sugar a bit, if you like.