Lasheeda Perry has cranked out thousands of Valentine’s Day desserts over the years. She was a pastry chef at the Four Seasons for nearly a decade, she has her own Long Beach, CA, culinary company (Queen of Flavor), and she appears regularly on the Food Network Kitchen app, whipping up fun sweets like hand pies and blondies. “After being in the industry for 16-plus years, I feel like I need to switch it up on Valentine’s Day,” she says. And by that she means no more molten chocolate cakes. For this dessert, she went for unexpected flavors — a riff on a recipe she created for the book Toques in Black: A Celebration of Black Chefs. “I wanted to try a strawberry version because who doesn’t love strawberry milk? It’s so nostalgic!” she says. —Kate Trombly O’Brien for Food Network Magazine
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl. Beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until thick like cake batter and pale yellow in color, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla. Gently but quickly fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until combined. Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread evenly.
Bake the cake until it springs back when gently pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes.
Make the strawberry sauce: Combine the strawberry milk, heavy cream, condensed milk and strawberry concentrate in a large bowl and mix very well. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, then slowly drizzle with the strawberry sauce. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Make the whipped cream: Grind the freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor until powdery. Beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and strawberry powder in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold in the lemon extract.
Spread the whipped cream over the cake and garnish with strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.