This would have made a great cake for the 4th of July. But berries are still in season, and it'll taste just as good on the 4th of September, or the 21st of August; well, you get the idea. As far as layer cakes go, this is on the lower end of the difficulty level - the filling and frosting are the same, and you can whip the cream in just a few minutes. The white cream is a great backdrop for all sorts of berry decorations, so have fun!
Berries & Cream Cake
Cake (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake)
Makes 2 8" round layers (or 2 thinner 9" layers)
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
5 egg whites (large)
1 7/8 (=1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons or 2 cups - 2 tablespoons) cups sugar
2-3 teaspoons lemon zest
10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons or 5 ounces) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 2 8" (or 9" for thinner layers) cake pans with baking spray, line with parchment, and spray again.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites and buttermilk.
In your mixer bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your hands until it's even distributed. This technique gets more out of your zest than simply stirring it into the batter later. Add the butter, and beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract.
Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the egg/milk mixture in 2 additions.
Pour the batter into the cake pans, and smooth the batter. Drop from a height of 3-4 inches to remove any air bubbles. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake should start to pull away from the sides after you remove it from the oven. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto parchment. Cool the cake right-side up.
Cakes made with egg whites like this one tend to dry out faster than some other cakes. It's best to make this cake the day you'll be serving it, or the night before (refrigerate well-wrapped overnight).
Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy cream
3/8 cup (=1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
When you're ready to assemble the cake, prepare the frosting: whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar while beating; add the vanilla. Continue to whip until the cream holds firm peaks. Cover and refrigerate.
Raspberry Jam (I'm sure strawberry or blueberry jam would taste great as well.)
Berries and Mint Leaves, optional
Place one cake layer on a cake board, and top with a thin layer of jam, whipped cream, and berries. Top with the second cake layer, and spread the whipped cream frosting generously over the entire cake. Decorate with berries and mint leaves, and piped whipped cream, if desired.
Refrigerate the cake until soon before serving. Ideally, the cake should be served at room temperature, but in the summer, you'll need to be careful that the whipped cream doesn't melt.