Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Stealth's Strawberry Cake

Alliteration and cake, what’s not to love?

It’s often said that bakers are born not made, and while I spent a childhood happily licking cake mixture from wooden spoons and knocking up all manner of brownies, cookies, fudge and flapjacks, my rebellious nature soon came to the fore and I quickly moved on to things that would be more forgiving if you happened to forget a small ingredient or two. (Who knew baking powder was that important, or what would happen if you didn't line the cake tin properly....)

I'm now am lucky enough to live with a baker extraordinaire, and while do occasionally get the hankering to knock up a cake or pud, I mostly leave it to the expert and just enjoy eating the results.

Sometimes, though it’s nice to make something a bit fancy to really impress, with last weekend being the perfect case in point - the Ewing had been working late most evenings and was feeling rather frazzled, and my dear friend Stealth, whose birthday it is this month, was coming to visit.

As it was Wimbledon Finals weekend and the height of summer, I wanted my cake to contain copious amounts of strawberries and cream and possibly some meringue for good measure. I also wanted it to tower over other cakes, with multiple layers of squidgy, sticky goodness. And with the temperatures topping 30c, I didn't fancy being chained to the oven much either....

A lot to ask perhaps, but the lovely Nigella came to the rescue with her strawberry meringue cake from Forever Summer (a versatile little number which also turns up in Feast, this time sandwiched together with lemon curd).

My main problem with fancy bakes is what is known in our house as the ‘aeroplane cake’ effect - deserts which resemble the cakes you used to get on planes in a bygone age, that look charming but taste of nothing. Often they will contain ridiculous numbers of different components; mousses, icings, coulis, sponges, meringues etc. but yet look boringly like any other cake when they've finally been assembled. Even worse, they go wrong on assembly - as they invariably do when you've got as little patience and work top space as me - and resemble something sad and squashed, rather than something to present with a flourish.

This cake is the antithesis of everything above, while still retaining that wow factor. An all-in-one egg yolk sponge is simply topped with whipped egg whites and sugar and all baked together, before being sandwiched with heaps of fruit and cream. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to use the Finnish strawberry liqueur purchased on our latest trip to Helsinki before it gets a chance to languish at the back of the cupboard under the stairs.

Scandanavian Summer Strawberry Cake

125g softened butter
4 large eggs (separated)
300g caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cornflour/potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice
4 tsp milk
½ teaspoon cream of tartar/white wine vinegar

150 ml double cream (or whipping cream)
1 punnet strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp strawberry/raspberry liqueur (optional)
Icing sugar to finish

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line and butter two 21cm sandwich tins.
Mix the egg yolks, 100g of the sugar, the butter, flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb, and vanilla in a food processor. Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins.
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar/vinegar in a clean bowl until peaks form and then slowly whisk in 200g of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.
Sprinkle almonds over the meringue. Put the tins into the oven for 25-35 minutes. (cover the cakes with foil if the almonds are burning)
Use a skewert o check the sponge is cooked through through. (It will have risen now but will fall back flattish later.) No sponge mixture should stick to the skewer. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
Mix the sliced strawberries with 1 tbsp of sugar and the liqueur if using and leave to marinade.
To serve, place one cake on a cake stand/large plate meringue side down.
Whisk the double cream until thick but not stiff and spread the cream onto the sponge cake. Place the strawberries on top.
Finish with the remaining cake, meringue uppermost, and plenty of icing sugar.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Stealth really got spoiled. Good to see her featured so prominently, she's one of the main reasons that I read your blog. Perhaps if you were to add her charming picture to the by-line?