It’s May (hooray!) which means it’s officially the start of the British strawberry season (double hooray!).
We love nothing more than to head to a ‘Pick Your Own’ field and gorge ourselves on as many sticky red berries as possible. There is nothing more delicious than a freshly picked, sun-warmed strawberry.
When we get home, any strawberries that weren’t snaffled on the way are made into jam, fool or, on special occasions, this towering layer cake. It feeds at least a dozen people so it’s perfect for barbecues, garden parties, picnics or family gatherings.
Just make sure you clear a whole shelf of your fridge so you can fit it in!
The sponge recipe I use here is the same as a Victoria sandwich. The traditional method is to weigh the eggs (in their shells), then add equal weights of sugar, butter and flour.
It seems a bit odd or pernickety the first time, but it’s worth it because it works every time. And you can make any size of cake just by upping the number of eggs, without having to do any complicated conversions.
Also, a confession from a real butter lover: I’ve tried all the variations on this and on this occasion, a baking spread (margarine) is best. It gives you a super light sponge. Everywhere else – I’m real butter all the way, I promise.
For the cake:
Equal weight of self-raising flour
Equal weight for margarine (I used Stork for Cakes)
Equal weight of golden caster sugar
1 tsp of baking powder per 140g of egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 or 4 punnets of British strawberries
For the cream:
600ml whipped cream
3 tbsp elderflower cordial
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 Grease and line the base of two 20cm (8 inch) cake tins
2 Weigh the eggs in their shells. Then weigh out the same amount of flour, margarine and caster sugar. So if your eggs weigh 250g, you need 250g of flour, 250g of Stork and 250g of sugar.
3 Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 140g. In this example, it would be nearly 1 and ¾ teaspoons.
4 Put your flour and baking powder in your bowl or stand mixer. Add the margarine, caster sugar and vanilla
5 Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl then add them to the mix
6 Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer on a low speed. Once combined, turn your mixer up to fill and beat for two minutes, scraping down the edges once to gather anything stuck to the sides. After two minutes, the mixture should be light and fluffy
7 Divide the mixture between your two tins, level them off and make a slight dip in the middle to counteract that dome effect
8 Bake in the centre of a pre-heated over at 180°C for 25 minutes. Check to see if they’re golden brown and spring back when lightly touched. If your finger leaves a dent, give them a few more minutes
9 Turn out the cakes and leave them to cool on a rack
10 To make the cream, beat the mascarpone, elderflower cordial and icing sugar together, then stir this into your whipped cream
11 To assemble, cut your cakes in half, spread with a little jam, lashings of cream and plenty of fresh halved strawberries before topping with another layer
- If you prefer, you can use plain whipped cream or even buttercream between your sponges.
- To slice through your cakes evenly, I stick cocktail sticks all the way round and then cut level with those.
- Just seven strawberries provides you with your recommended daily amount of vitamin C. So, really, this cake is a superfood…