For the cake:
- Butter, for greasing
- 1 3/4 cups (7.9 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
For the strawberry buttercream:
- 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 16 ounces (4 sticks or 2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Red gel food coloring, if desired
- [url]Chocolate Covered Strawberries∞../chocolate-covered-strawberries/[/url], for garnish
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add in the salt and mix on low speed until combined. In a large measuring up or small bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix, the mixture should be very thin.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Freeze until hardened.
For the buttercream:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add in the strawberry preseves, salt, and vanilla and beat on medium for 1 minute. Add about 1/4 teaspoon gel food coloring, if using, and beat until the buttercream is evenly colored. Add more coloring if desired.
- Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on a flat surface or cake pedestal. Remove some of the buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a plain open tip and pipe a large ring around the edge of the cake layer. With an offset spatula, evenly spread the frosting over the rest of the layer to make the filling. Place the second cake layer on top, flat side up, and spread a very thin coating of frosting all over to make a crumb coating. When scraping away excess frosting, be careful not to add the crumb frosting back in with the clean frosting. Freeze the cake until firm.
- Remove from freezer and spread the remaining frosting evenly over the cake, scraping away excess frosting and smoothing imperfections with the offset spatula. If desired, place more frosting in a piping bag fitted with an open star tip and pipe a decorating border along the cake. Top with chocolate covered strawberries before serving.