SOUTHERN STRAWBERRY CAKE:

Yield: 1 three layer 8″ cake

10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 vanilla bean

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1 cup pureed strawberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8” cake pans and line with rounds of parchment. Set aside.

– In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

– In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and almond extract. Set aside.

– Split and scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean. Rub the seeds into the sugar. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and vanilla sugar with the paddle attachment until it forms a paste. Add the eggs in a slow stream, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture and beat for 1 minute at medium speed.

– Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the lemon zest.

– Spoon into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool before removing from the pan.

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