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Cool respite: Refrigerator cake is a timeless dessert

Refrigerator cake is a timeless dessert

By Kim Ode

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 4:21 p.m. MDT

Pour the batter into prepared pan(s). For a 9- by-13-inch cake, bake for about 35 minutes. For 8-inch round pans, bake 23 to 26 minutes. For 9-inch round pans, bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

While cake is cooling, wash and hull strawberries, then cut them into ¼ -inch slices — too thin and they'll lose their "strawberry-ness." Set aside.

When the cake is cool, run a knife around the outside edges, then cover with a cookie sheet or other flat tray that will fit inside your refrigerator. (You can also reassemble the cake in the original pan, if desired.)

Carefully flip the pan upside-down, releasing the cake onto the tray. Gently peel off the parchment paper.

Using a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake horizontally into two thin layers. To help keep the knife level, you can insert toothpicks into the sides of the cake as a guide.

Work your hands under the top layer of cake and transfer to a cookie sheet. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, then add the heavy cream, beating until the cream holds a peak. Watch carefully; it may seem like it's not going to thicken, then it will suddenly come together.

Measure out about one-third of the whipped cream and drop in dollops across the cake, then spread to cover the entire surface. Cover the cream layer with sliced strawberries, several slices thick, making sure to go all the way to the edges; reserve some for top of cake. Carefully top with reserved layer of cake, pressing gently to adhere to fruit.

Use remaining whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake. (Note: If reassembling cake in the baking pan — and not frosting the sides — you will only need to whip 3 cups of heavy cream.)

Cover with plastic wrap, sticking toothpicks over the surface of the cake to hold the wrap away from the whipped cream. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Garnish with additional fruit before serving. Serve cake cold.

KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN

While we think that whipped cream and berries is one of summer's best combos for this cake, several other variations seem just as appealing. Use this cake as a canvas to come up with other choices.

Combine a little lemon curd or lemon zest with the whipped cream (with or without the mascarpone) for a light lemony filling on the inside.

Chocolate more your style? Fold in mini-mini chocolate chips to the filling (with or without the mascarpone) or add finely chopped chocolate to the mixture.

Or think crumbs, as in Oreo crumbs, if you're a fan of the Blizzard-style summer treat. Fold those into the whipping cream filling instead, in a variation of the Nabisco chocolate wafer/whipped cream dessert.

Or make this a cake with more than two layers by baking it in round pans and slicing each into two layers (for a total of four). If you have a cake carrier, this is a particularly handy way of storing the cake in the refrigerator and carrying it elsewhere, as needed.

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