Peony Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Buttercream- Yummm!
I’ve done many children’s birthday cakes before, but I love doing cakes for adults because you can typically venture outside the basic chocolate and vanilla flavors. Think lemon raspberry, espresso, carrot, german chocolate, whiskey, red velvet…there are so many yummy choices!
This particular cake is a vanilla butter cake, which is slightly more dense than a regular vanilla cake, but with a rich, buttery flavor. I used fresh strawberries in between each layer, a vanilla buttercream frosting, and topped it with sugared berries and fresh-from-the-garden peonies! It was gorgeous and incredibly tasty if I do say so myself!
I made 2 batches of the cake recipe, and 2 double batches of frosting (so 4x the recipe), which was enough for the cake (triple layer bottom and double layer top), along with 24 cupcakes with frosting. I did have a little extra frosting that I tossed later, but I’d rather have too much than too little.
Remember when using fresh berries in or on your cake to try to assemble the cake the day of your party if at all possible. Once the berries come in contact with the sugars in the cake and frosting, they will start to let off juice, which I do not think would hold up well if prepared too far in advance. I baked my cakes the day before, leveled them (the cake in this recipe does not rise much so there was not much to cut off), wrapped them in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet. I almost always do this for 2 reasons- 1) I can bake them a few days ahead of time if I need too and 2) I find it much easier to work with “frozen” layers when assembling as they seem to hold up better.
I also made my frosting the day before and left it in an airtight container on the counter overnight. If I ever need to make the frosting a few days ahead of time, I store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator- just remember to give it a few hours to come to room temp before use or it will be too stiff to work with because the butter will firm up.
There was enough cake batter and frosting left over to make 24 frosted cupcakes, which we also topped with sugared berries. To make sugared berries, just give them a good rinse, and while they’re still slightly damp, roll in a little bowl of sugar. When they “dry” it gives them a sweet little crunchy crust (plus they’re so pretty this way, I think).
For the cake decor I chose peonies because 1) What is better than peonies?!? 2) they happened to be in bloom in my yard at the time and 3) they are edible- no poisonous flowers on my cakes. Make sure they are not shedding their petals already or they’ll stick all over the cake, give them a nice rinse, and diligently check for bugs! Ants love peonies, and no one wants to find an ant crawling across their cake.
This cake was one of my favorites so I hope you enjoy. Happy baking!