Preheat oven to 340F. Butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans. Soak baking strips in water. Strain the strawberry preserves.
Sift dry ingredients (including sugar). Whisk to combine.
In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Combine wet and dry mixtures. Whisk until combined. Add a few drops of pink food coloring until a desired consistency is reached. If the batter is lumpy, it’s okay!
Add damp baking strips to the cake pans.
Evenly distribute batter into pans. I like to use a kitchen scale for precision.
Bake for about 30- 35 minutes or until the centers are set and springy to the touch.
For the American Buttercream:
In a stand mixer, cream the butter until fluffy.
Sift in half of the confectioners sugar. Mix, then add the rest.
Squeeze lemon juice and combine.
Reserve ¼ cup of the white buttercream to dye green for the stems and leaves.
Transfer ½ the plain white buttercream from the standing mixer to a piping bag. Snip off the tip.
Add in 1 tbsp of strained strawberry preserves to the remaining buttercream. Mix until combined.
Save about 1-2 cups for the flowers in a separate bowl. Transfer the strawberry buttercream to a piping bag and snip off the tip.
Use food coloring to dye the buttercream different shades of pink to orange for the flowers.
For the Assembly:
Pipe the strawberry buttercream between each layer.
Crumb coat the cake and smooth with a scraper.
Pipe a thin layer of plain white buttercream on the outside of the cake. Even out with a hot scraper and offset spatula. Chill for about 30 minutes.
Using a palette knife, sculpt flowers from the pink and orange buttercream. Add details, stems and leaves.
I used an American buttercream for this cake but if you like things on the less sweet side then I would substitute an Italian meringue buttercream in, much less sweet but so creamy and silky. It really lets the cake shine through.I stuck with a traditional American buttercream because it's more stable in warmer temperatures and thicker in consistency making it more forgiving to paint with. To achieve some extra depth you can mix up some batches or buttercream with more coloring, then use that for different parts of the flower. I often do this when piping roses and it really helps.If you want your cake layers to be really flat and stack easier without trimming then try out cake strips! There's a whole blog post and how to video on it here.