VANILLA CAKE :
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional for cake pans)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks room temperature butter (plus additional for greasing cake pans)
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate (melted)
1/2 cup strawberry jam (warmed)
powdered sugar (to garnish)
VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING :
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
6 cups confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
CHOCOLATE GANACHE :
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans by coating in butter and dusting in flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed, until pale yellow and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, incorporating fully between additions. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, begin to slowly add flour mixture and and milk in an alternating pattern. Mix until just combined.
Pour one third of the vanilla cake batter into one prepared cake pan. Divide the remaining batter into 2 medium bowls. Fold the melted bittersweet chocolate into 1/3 of the cake batter, then pour into the prepared cake pan. Fold the strawberry jam into the remaining cake batter and pour into the last prepared cake pan. Place all 3 cake pans in the oven and stagger. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire baking rack completely.
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar, milk, and vanilla, and mix until light and fluffy.
For the Chocolate Ganache: Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Pour the hot cream over bittersweet chocolate chips, let stand for 5 minutes, until the chocolate is melted. Whisk to combine.
To Assemble: Place the chocolate cake on a cake pedestal, using about 1/2 cup of vanilla buttercream, spread evenly on top. Place the vanilla layer on top of the first layer of buttercream, spread 1/2 cup of vanilla frosting evenly on top of the vanilla layer. Place the strawberry cake layer on the second layer of buttercream, and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides of the 3 layers of cake, this is known as a crumb coat. Place the crumb coated cake in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, then ice cake again for the final layer of icing. Chill for another 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove and pour the ganache over the top, allowing to drip down the sides. Let stand for 5 minutes before decorating with strawberries.
Dust cake with powdered sugar.
Tip: Trim the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife to make even. Using an offset spatula spread a very thin layer of buttercream on the outside of the cake to make a crumb coat. A crumb coat is usually the first layer of icing on a cake then the second layer is applied once it has set.