Tender strawberry cake layers filled with creamy strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate-covered strawberries.
Preheat oven to 325 °F. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse fresh or frozen strawberries for 1 minute until cut into small pieces, then add strawberry jam and buttermilk, pulse until combined. Set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk and stir together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, and sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time to the stand mixer bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated.
Turn the mixer on low and add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture then add buttermilk. Add in the remaining flour mixture and until fully incorporated.
Pour in the strawberry mixture, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest. Mix on medium for another 30 seconds and add a few drops of super red gel food coloring. Mix until combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Evenly distribute the cake batter among the three cake pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
Remove cakes from oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely — wrap cakes in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.
In a small saucepot, add the fresh or frozen strawberries. Place pot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes to bring to a boil and break down the berries occasionally stir to prevent from burning on the bottom.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Mix with a spoon until the mixture is lump-free. Add the mixture to the boiling strawberries, stirring constantly.
Add lemon zest to the strawberry mixture should be opaque and thick. Once thick, remove from the heat and place into the freezer to cool quickly.
Add semi-sweet chocolate chips to a small microwavable bowl. In another small microwavable bowl, heat the heavy cream to a light simmer for about 1 minute.
Pour hot, heavy cream over chocolate chips. Allow chocolate to melt for 1 minute. Use a whisk or rubber spatula to mix the chocolate and cream. Mix until its velvety smooth. If chocolate is still not melted, heat in the microwave in 15-second increments.
In the stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Turn the mixer to low and add the cold strawberry gel, salt, and vanilla.
Next, gradually add powdered sugar, followed by the cream. Mix on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Before using turn the mixer on low and mix for 2 minutes to push out any air bubbles or use a rubber spatula to push out the air bubbles. (You may need to repeat this step when frosting the outside of the cake).
In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips in 30-second increments until fully melted. Then add coconut oil to make chocolate smoother and easy to dip the strawberries into.
Next, make sure the strawberries are totally dry, hold the fruit careful by the green stem and dip the strawberry ¾ of the way into the chocolate. Then gently scrape excess chocolate off the bottom of the strawberry on the side of the bowl.
Place the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Set aside. Continue to dip 8-10 strawberries. Place the tray into the refrigerator to set the chocolate.
Remove the cake layers from the freezer and unwrap the cake layers. Next, use a serrated knife to cut off the dome of the cakes to make the layers flat and even.
Add a small amount of buttercream onto the center of the cake board. Layer one strawberry cake, cut side up onto cake board. Add a 2/3 cup of strawberry buttercream over the cake using an offset spatula to spread buttercream and make it even.
Then drizzle chocolate ganache over the buttercream. Place another cake layer cut side down over the top.
Repeat the process for another layer — Crumb coat with strawberry buttercream and freeze for 30 minutes.
Add a thicker layer of buttercream to the cold cake. Use an offset spatula and cake scraper to make the sides as smooth as possible. Then place back into the fridge to set the buttercream for 10 minutes.
Reheat chocolate ganache if needed for 10 seconds at a time. Then start at the top edge of the cake drip the chocolate down the sides of the cake. Use different pressure on the squeeze bottle to create different lengths of the drips.
Then open the squeeze bottle and pour chocolate ganache on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to smooth out the ganache.
Place the chocolate-covered strawberries on top to complete the cake! Serve at room temperature and enjoy!