2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, more for greasing pan
2 quarts strawberries (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
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1 lemon, zested
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1¾ cups sugar
1/3 cup whole milk, warmed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray. Line with baking paper and grease the parchment.
2. Cut off tops of strawberries and thinly slice half of them, leaving remaining berries whole. Mix sliced strawberries with superfine sugar and half the lemon zest. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip eggs and egg white on high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Gradually pour in 1¼ cups sugar and whip on high speed until mixture is a pale yellow color and has thickened enough to mound onto itself when beater is lifted, one to three minutes.
4. Using a rubber spatula, gently and patiently fold flour mixture into egg mixture. Fold in milk, vanilla and butter until completely combined.
5. Gently pour batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and peel off baking paper. Let cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, in a small pot, whisk together remaining ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and the pepper. Simmer on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture has reduced by half, about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining lemon zest.
7. Whip heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
8. Using a serrated knife, horizontally slice cake in half. Generously brush each cut side with lemon-pepper syrup. Transfer the bottom half to a cake plate, cut side up, and spoon sliced strawberries and any juices over it. Spread half the whipped cream over sliced strawberries and gently place the other cake half on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake (or mound it all on the top). Garnish with whole strawberries and drizzle with more lemon-pepper syrup for serving.
Melissa Clark, The New York Times