This cake was such an obvious request from the little girls in our family,
the brainchild of my daughter and niece Franchesca.
When I asked them about their favorite treat for a hot summer day, they blurted out “pink lemonade!”
and I went ahead and turned it into a cake: two layers of tart lemon cake sandwiched between
layers of strawberry buttercream frosting and freshly sliced strawberries (girls like drama!).
You can assemble this glorious cake up to two days ahead; store at room temp.
Also, you can freeze cooled layers up to a month in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
8 to 10 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
Strawberry buttercream frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. whole milk
2 large strawberries, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Prepare two 9-inch round pans with baking spray.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.
With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly in between. With the mixer still running, add the lemon juice (the batter will look curdled, but it’s not!).
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat, adding another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape. Add the remaining 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before removing them from the pans.
While the cakes are cooling, make the strawberry buttercream frosting: Combine the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl or standing mixer. Mix together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and the strawberries and mix on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy and pale pink in color, with flecks of strawberry.
Invert one of the cake rounds onto a cake plate; generously spread with frosting and top with strawberry slices. Repeat with the remaining layer of cake and frosting. Frost the sides of the cake. Put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.