After a very long winter we have finally been rewarded with a Summer here in Blighty – it’s been blue skies, sunshine and scorchio! for nearly a week now (I am ignoring this weeks predictions for thunder & rain) It looks like we are set for perfect weather for this weekends 4 day Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
With 4 whole days of fun and frolics there will be parties and BBQs galore and everyone knows that a party needs a cake and it doesn’t get much more British than a cake filled with juicy British strawberries. I made this for a 16th birthday party last week and some of my most experienced taste-testers declared it “the best cake ever made”
This recipe is adapted from Alice Hart’s new cookbook Friends at My Table – the original recipe is for a three-tiered wedding cake – she goes into great detail of how to assemble and decorate the full cake. I wholeheartedly recommend this book – a beautifully shot & illustrated guide to entertaining in style, packed with information you wouldn’t normally find in a cookbook that makes for a really inspiring read.
The recipe used buttermilk which I sometimes struggle to get hold of – so I usually replace this with either soured cream or yoghurt mixed with lemon juice – I also added the zest of the lemon… because what could be the harm?
Vanilla & Strawberry Cake
175g / 6oz golden caster sugar
175g / 6oz unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, room temperature
200g / 7oz self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
25g / 2 tbsp ground almonds
40ml natural yoghurt or soured cream
juice & zest of half a lemon
a generous blob of vanilla bean paste
Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing
125g / 4.4oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g / 9oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 generous blobs of vanilla bean paste
300g / 10oz icing sugar
half a jar of good quality strawberry jam
100g / 3.5oz british strawberries – hulled and sliced
Preheat the oven to 160°c / 320°f / gas mark 3 and grease, flour and line a 20cm springform tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together, until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined after each one. If the mixture starts to curdle add a spoon of flour.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and mix until combined.
Scrape down the sides and add the ground almonds, yoghurt, zest, lemon juice and vanilla.
Mix together until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the batter over – make a shallow indentation in the centre of the cake – this is to avoid the cake raising into a dome too much, one desires a flat top.
Bake in the oven for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to fully cool.
To make the icing put all the ingredients into the bottom of a stand mixer and beat together until the yellow of the butter has turned pale and the icing sugar has all dissolved.
To assemble the cake – carefully slice in half with a serrated knife and spread some of the icing on the bottom layer, don’t spread all the way to the edges – leave about a 1 to 2cm gap.
Cover the icing with the sliced strawberries.
On the other half spread a generous amount of jam – again don’t spread all the way to the edges.
Sandwich the 2 halves together.
Tuck 3 pieces of greaseproof paper or tinfoil under the edges of the cake – to stop your board or plate from getting caked in icing.
Now dollop some icing on the top – and spread it out, gently teasing it down the sides. This layer only needs to be thin as it’s just what is known at the crumb layer – it traps any stray crumbs and prevents them from spoiling the look of the finished cake. Once the whole cake is covered – chill for about an hour (or longer if you have the time) Also chill the remaining icing.
Repeat this process for the finished layer, this time being more generous with your dolloping. You don’t need to be too precise in smoothing the icing out, a little rippling adds to the effect.
Remove the greaseproof paper and decorate however you wish – I made mini bunting from cocktail sticks, string and cut paper but you could use fresh flowers or strawberries – whatever you wish.
As the sponge is just simply almond & vanilla you could use any fruit to fill it or flavouring for the icing. Maybe try Rose Water and Raspberries or Blackberries and a Kirsch icing. There is nothing stopping you.