Lemon Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone

I only just realized that my grandmother had never really loved cooking when she moved into the seniors home and breathed a sigh of relief. I’m still a bit shocked, but not entirely. Now that I think back, I remember her being very rushed, always trying to get the cooking done and ‘out of the way’. It was always basic, but delicious and hearty fare; the best kind for feeding a large growing, farm family. With all the bread baking, pickling, preserving, and gardening, I don’t think she had much time for kitchen experimenting or recipe development. Birthdays were celebrated with a simple sheet cake or home baked pie, and nothing more because that’s what was expected. Life was much simpler back in the days when my dad grew up, the oldest of 6 kids, on a farm in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan.

That hard work ethic was passed on to my dad who, by the age of ten, was driving the small farm tractor and helping out with farm chores. To those that aren’t farmers, the hard work and dedication of farming life often goes by unnoticed. There were times during harvest when I barely saw my dad for weeks at a time while he combined into the wee morning hours until the dew fall-finally signalled bedtime.

Now that he is retired (to be honest, farmers never retire…) he and my mom have been able to visit us in Alberta more frequently. I was ecstatic that they could be with us to celebrate their granddaughter’s graduation, since it was also my dad’s birthday, pleased to be able to finally be able to bake my dad a well deserved cake. I really wanted to go all out because man, does this guy have a sweet tooth! When I took it out of the fridge, he was so tickled that I had baked him a cake. With a big smile, he marvelled, “It has FOUR layers!” and then I realized he had probably never had such a cake, ever. My mom, while an amazing bread baker, just could never manage to bake sweets including, cookies, pies, and cakes.

dadandcakeI barely got in a photo with him holding the cake before he had the knife out. It’s a good thing I took some photos before they arrived…
strawberrycake

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Lemon Cardamom Layer Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone

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A four layer cake, best made when strawberries are at their peak.
  • Difficulty:Intermediate
  • Prep Time:60 mins
  • Cook Time:35 mins
  • Serves:10

Nutrition per portion

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
  • 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1-2/3 cups (400 mL) milk
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 (16 oz./475 g) tubs mascarpone cheese
  • 3 lbs strawberries (depending on how nice they are...always pick the best ones for the outside!
Method
  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease two 9 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Continue beating and add eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt.
  4. Stir 1/3 dry mixture into wet mixture, then add 1/3 milk. Alternate until the remainder of the dry ingredients and milk are gone. Stir in lemon juice to make the batter slightly curdle.
  5. Divide evenly between the two cake pans, filling no more than 2/3 pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester come out clean. Let cool on wire racks, then remove from pans.
  7. Halve cakes horizontally to make 4 layers.
  8. Mascarpone Cream - Mix two tubs mascarpone cheese with 4 cups icing sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom.
  9. Drop about 1 cup mascarpone cream mixture in the centre of each layer (except top) and spread outward, leaving a 2 inch space of cake surface between the cream and edge of the cake.
  10. Hull and slice strawberries lengthwise and place them snugly against each other on top of the mascarpone cream.
  11. Place the nicest strawberries on the bare cake surfaces with the tips facing outward and sticking out slightly. Add the next cake layer. Repeat strawberry steps for each layer (except the top).
  12. Spread the cake top with the remainder of the mascarpone cream and arrange uncut strawberries on top, or decorate with edible flowers, etc.

dadscake1

Some thoughts on baking the cake…2 cups of sugar is A LOT. I knew the cake would be quite sweet, so I didn’t want the toppings to add even more sweetness. The mascarpone cheese worked well in this respect and had enough integrity to keep it’s shape. The cake is even better the next day…as cakes usually are.

 

 

26 comments

  1. janet @ the taste space

    What a stunner! I would have dug right in, too!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      LOL you can imagine how big these pieces are. He had two. I should try to bake for him more often, but I’m so far away PLUS I hate cooking in my mom’s kitchen.

      1. OldButNew

        I tried your recipe and my husband loves it. Thanks!

  2. Blogtastic Food

    That is one epic cake. Love the addition of the mascarpone (:

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you. It was kind of an accident…truth be told. I wasn’t sure what to use that would stand up to the weight and keep it’s form. A happy guess!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      thank you so much..and thanks for stopping by too!

  3. Alanna Lipson

    Strawberries and mascarpone — what a perfect cake for the summer! And what a sweet story, too. Your dad looks so happy! It’s the same reason I always try to bake a cake/pie for someone’s birthday. Even though it’s a lot of work, there’s something lovely about being able to see how much joy it brings. Nothing like a birthday cake to put a smile on your face!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      It’s true…I’ve always went a bit overboard because I grew up with really lame cakes (sorry mom, it’s true) lol so when my daughter made my all time favourite Chocolate Carrot Cake for my 40th I was over the moon! She got the recipe from the restaurant and I’ve been trying to get that recipe for YEARS!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you T & T! It made my poppa very happy and that’s what matters the most!

  4. Coco Cake Land

    That cake looks incredible … and such a sweet picture of your dad with the cake …! Mascarpone is so rich and delicious, I like how it’s offset with lemon and fresh strawberries! 🙂

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  5. sugarlovespices

    Love hearing stories like that! What a beautiful homage to your dad in words and with that gorgeous cake! Looks stunning and I can imagine the day after when the flavors have set.

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Well the good thing about a huge cake like this is that it lasts a long time. He had two sliced the next day too!

  6. Vicky Chin

    Wow ! Lovely cake Bernice! It must taste amazing ! He looks so happy in the picture ! It’s a great feeling to bake for your own family, it’s sweetness inside out !

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you! yep, I wish they all lived closer so I could bake more 🙂

  7. Teresa

    That’s wonderful and you told your story beautifully! Your Dad looks so pleased. My mother can do just about anything in the kitchen, including cakes, but when we were growing up, bakery cakes were our tradition for birthdays. I still do splash out for a bakery cake for their birthdays some years, but I also like baking them something special, too. My Dad would have been extra pleased with a cake like that!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you Teresa. I think it’s just because my mom doesn’t like sweets. She made the rest of us suffer lol. We lived pretty far out of town so bakery cakes were rare…unless we went into town to celebrate with grandma!

  8. Shareba

    Oh my goodness, that cake looks divine! Love the combination of cardamom, strawberries and mascarpone too! Yum!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      i just love cardamom. I’ll pretty much try it in everything. Thanks for stopping by Shareba!

  9. Justine @ JustineCelina.com

    Gorgeous cake, Bernice. It’s also nice to read about some of your family memories. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend and are enjoying family time before your daughter goes off to college!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      We are, thanks Justine. Every day I can tell I’m going to miss her more…but not the mess in the kitchen lol.

  10. witchspotion

    hello. I m having a weekly feature on my blog. Would you like to collaborate.

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Hi! Thank you so much for asking…I don’t think I would be able to for at least the rest of October. Maybe in November? What did you have in mind?

      1. witchspotion

        Ohh sure why not. Maybe next month just message me whenever you would like to participate.

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