In Season: Ginger Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Strawberry ginger cake 3 copy

by Erica Park of Nommable

In my family, there happen to be a lot of birthdays in the spring—and subsequently, a lot of cake! But the springtime is also extra exciting because of all the great flavors associated with this time of the year—bright and happy lemon, tart rhubarb, earthy carrots… and sweet strawberries. It’s such a perfect fruit for dessert, whether plain with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or jazzed up into a pie or cobbler.

This whole cake tastes like spring—soft, delicate, and bright, like the flowers you see blooming on the trees with the sun shining. It’s a cake that would be perfect for an afternoon picnic, a tea party with your girlfriends—or a Game of Thrones viewing (to keep winter at bay).

For this cake, strawberries are a part of the frosting and the filling. Their juices make the buttercream just barely tart and sweet, and also give it a delicate pink color perfect for piping into flowers. The filling is just a basic strawberry jam – you could certainly make your own homemade jam, but I chose to save some time and use some Bonne Maman strawberry jam. The cake itself also celebrates spring with some fresh, bright flavors of ginger and cardamom. It’s the perfect spice for the natural sweetness of the strawberries.

Cake is always great, but can be made even better when you embrace what’s in season. I find that baking with what’s in season gives me new inspiration and added energy in the kitchen. This spring, I hope you get a chance to embrace all the lovely flavors that the season brings you.


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Strawberry ginger cake 7

Ginger Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Makes three 6-inch cakes

For the cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 cup whole milk, room temperature

For the strawberry buttercream (barely adapted from Style Sweet CA):
6 egg whites (using large eggs)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes and slightly softened
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
12-15 tablespoons strawberry puree, recipe below

For the strawberry puree:
12-15 medium strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 jar Bonne Maman strawberry jam (any other type of strawberry jam works as well)

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How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 3 six-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease with nonstick spray or with butter and flour. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cardamom until combined. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the color is light and the mixture seems fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add in the eggs 1 at a time, waiting for the egg to become well mixed into the batter before adding the next egg. Add the vanilla and ginger and mix for another 30 seconds until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter on medium low speed. Then add the milk, and finish by adding the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until well combined, but be careful not to overmix.

4. Divide the batter among the three cake pans and place in the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of a cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes. After they are slightly cooled, remove the cakes from the pans and place on a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely. At this point you can wrap the cakes in cling wrap and place them in the freezer to save for another day. Regardless, let the cakes cool completely before frosting your cake.

For the strawberry puree:

1. Clean the strawberries and slice in half.

2. In a food processor, combine the ingredients and puree until it creates a smooth strawberry puree. Pour into a jar or bowl and set aside until you make your buttercream.

For the strawberry buttercream:

1. Fill a pot with water for a water bath, but not too full. The bowl of the stand mixer that you use for this recipe should not touch the water.

2. Place the egg whites and sugar into a bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until combined.

3. Place the bowl over the water bath and whisk occasionally until the sugar seems completely dissolved. It should feel smooth rather than grainy overall.

4. Return the bowl back to the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture on high until stiff glossy peaks are formed. The bowl should return back to room temperature before you move on to the next step.

5. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the cubes of butter to the mixture. Mix until smooth – the mixture may seem curdled at some point but just keep going! If the mixture seems too runny, place the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes and try to whip afterwards.

6. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the vanilla until smooth on medium-low speed.

7. With the mixer running, carefully add in the strawberry puree 1 tablespoon at a time. Be careful because too much puree at once can cause the frosting to curdle. Add as many tablespoons until you think that the frosting has enough strawberry flavor to your liking.

Cake Assembly:

1. Level the cakes with a good serrated knife.

2. Using a piping bag, pipe a ring around the edge of a cake with the strawberry buttercream. This ring will help keep the jam and prevent it from leaking out of the edges. Spread the strawberry jam in the middle. Stack the second leveled cake on top and repeat this method with the second cake. Add the third cake to the top.

3. Frost the cake however you’d like with the rest of the strawberry buttercream. I first made a crumb coat and placed the layer cake in the fridge for 20 minutes. I then frosted the cake with piped flowers—but you could make any design (as long as it makes you embrace the springtime and makes you happy!) Note: If you decide to make a naked-style cake, I would halve the ingredients for the strawberry buttercream.

4. Enjoy big slices with your family and friends, probably with a glass of rosé and some fresh strawberries!

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That looks amazing, Erica! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try piping flowers all over like this—the result is gorgeous. And thank you to Sarah Ann Noel for her help coordinating this series.

P.S. More In Season recipes. And that gorgeous cake stand!

Erica Park is a medical student in Indianapolis who realized recently that she needed a hobby that would make her smile on even the worst days of school. She started Nommable in 2015 as a way to share stories about loved ones, life in Indianapolis, and lots of dessert. Erica especially loves baking for others, whether it’s for a special occasion or just a small surprise to make someone’s day a little brighter.

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