Celebrate the season with strawberry cake

For the Monson family, summer officially begins the Swedish way, as friends and three generations of relatives gather annually in their welcoming backyard on June 21 to eat, sing and dance around the maypole – that is, once everyone has made a midsummer head wreath of greens and flowers.

“Even the guys,” says party organizer and host Ron Monson. It’s a great icebreaker as people arrive. They wander over to the big wooden table overflowing with fresh flowers, wire, ribbons, scissors and pliers to create their own version of traditional Swedish flower crowns.

Ron, his wife Carla and their daughters Kirsten and Britta all pitch in to re-create the midsummer celebrations they’ve enjoyed several times abroad with second cousins in Dalsland, Sweden.

“The Swedes pick flowers in the countryside for their crowns and for decorating the maypole, and then enjoy an outdoor menu of herring, salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, new potatoes with fresh dill and a strawberry cake filled with fresh whipped cream,” says 19-year-old Britta.

Celebrate summertime with Britta’s mouthwatering four-layer Midsummer Strawberry Cake:

1. Bake two 9-inch rounds from a Betty Crocker white cake mix. When cool, carefully slice them in half to make four rounds.

2. Just before serving, whip 1 pint of heavy whipping cream until firm. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Mix to combine.

Place the bottom slice of a cake round on a serving plate, spread with some of the whipped cream and scatter sliced strawberries. Repeat with remaining layers. Cover top slice of cake with cream, and decorate with big strawberry halves, stems intact.

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