1 1/4 c. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
6 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 T. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 pounds strawberries, washed, dried, and stemmed
4-6 T. sugar
Pinch table salt
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
2 c. heavy cream
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack at lower-middle position. Grease and flour round 9 x 2 inch cake pan.
2. Whisk dry cake ingredients, minus 3 tablespoons sugar. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserve the whites), butter, water, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
3. Beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy (1 to 2 minutes). Slowly add remaining 3 T. sugar. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form (1 to 1.5 minutes).
4. Stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten. Fold remaining whites into batter until the white streaks are gone. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake until cake tester comes clean (30 to 40 minutes).
6. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling on a wire rack for 2 hours.
For the strawberry filling:
1. Halve 24 of the best looking berries and reserve. Quarter the remaining berries. Toss with the 4 to 6 tablespoons of sugar and let sit for one hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Strain juice from berries and reserve (about 1/2 cup). Chop berries in a food processor for 5 one-second pulses. You should have 1 1/2 cups.
3. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, simmer reserved juice until reduced to about 3 tablespoons (3 to 5 minutes). Pour reduced juice over chopped berries. Add the pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cool.
For the whipped cream:
1. Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (1 to 2 minutes) scrapping down sides of the bowl occasionally.
2. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream slowly.
3. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until whipped cream holds stiff peaks (2 to 2.5 minutes).
Makes about 4 1/2 cups.
To assemble the cake:
1. Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake into three even layers.
2. Place bottom layer of the cake on a cake pan and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut side down and stem ends facing out, on the perimeter of the cake.
3. Pour half of the puree strawberry mixture in center of the berry ring. Spread to cover any exposed areas.
4. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream over the berry layer, leaving a half-inch border from the edge.
5. Place middle layer of the cake and press down gently. Layer with strawberries, puree, and whipped cream, as in the previous layer.
6. Gently press the top payer of cake on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top. Decorate with remaining cut strawberries.
Serve or chill for up to 4 hours.