To me this is nothing short of total dessert heaven. All of my favorite dessert ingredients (butter, vanilla, lemon, strawberries, whipped cream and poppy seeds) all rolled into one gorgeous cake. It is truly a sight to behold and heaven on the palate. Who could ask for anything more in a dessert? It is a combination of a few basic components, rich butter cake, a luscious pastry cream and strawberries all held together with billowy clouds of lightly sweetened whipped cream. A minor miracle on a plate.
The cake base is a small miracle in itself. Rich and buttery and lightly perfumed with the sweet tang of lemon juice and zest and topped off with the slight crunchiness of poppy seeds. It has a moist texture and a nice light crumb but is still firm enough to thinly slice into layers and hold its shape. I wouldn’t think twice about baking this cake in a square or sheet pan, giving it a dusting of confectioners sugar and just snacking on it morning, noon and night. It is that good.
The smooth vanilla pastry cream starts out as a regular vanilla custard with eggs, mild and cream and heavily perfumed with vanilla beans. The secret here is addition of lightly whipped cream to make it ethereal and a little gelatin to help it hold its shape. It is truly delicious and would make a wonderful filling for cream puffs or éclairs or simply served on its own as a pudding with maybe an almond tuille on the side. Scrumptious.
The cake is leveled and the crumbs toasted to be used as decoration. The cake is then sliced into three thin layers. The first layer goes down and is drenched in a lemon simple syrup. Then a thick layer of the vanilla pastry cream and a healthy layer of sliced strawberries and then topped off with a thick layer of sweetened whipped cream. The second layer goes on and the process is repeated. The top layer is added, drenched in syrup and then pastry cream. The entire cake is them robed in a thick layer of more sweetened whipped cream. The sides are decorated with the toasted cake crumbs and then the top is decorated with more whipped cream and accented with lemon slices and strawberries. Total and complete heaven,