Fresh Strawberry Mousse Cake

10-12 servings

For the Cake

10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

7 extra large egg whites, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups cake flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For the Filling

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

For the Frosting

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350º F.   Butter and flour the sides of the sides of 4 (8-inch) round cake pans with a round of parchment paper.  Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Gradually add the egg whites, one-third at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Stir in the extracts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes with parchment and cool completely on wire racks.

For the Filling

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a medium bowl; let stand for five minutes.  In the bowl of a food processor, purée strawberries and sugar until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.  Transfer strawberry mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Remove from the heat.  Add the gelatin mixture to the strawberry mixture, whisking constantly until gelatin has dissolved.  Chill until cool, stirring occasionally, about 30-45 minutes.

Using a whisk or hand-held mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form.  Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until no streaks remain.  Cover and chill for 30 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape when mounded between cake layers.  Spread about 1 cup of the strawberry mousse filling between each cake layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border around all edges; cover and chill for 3 hours or until mousse is set.

For the Frosting

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, about 30 seconds.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, the strawberries, vanilla, and salt at low speed until creamy.  Spread the frosting on sides and top of cake.  Chill until ready to serve.  Allow to set at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

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