This American style whisked sponge cake is made with pureed strawberries and vegetable oil rather than butter so is light but still moist and moreish.
- 175g strawberries, hulled
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 1 lemon, grated rind only
- 225g caster sugar
- Red paste food colouring
For the Filling:
- 150g strawberry jam
- 2 tsp powdered gelatine
- 400g strawberries, hulled
- 125ml double cream
For the Frosting:
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 1 lemon, finely grated lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 400ml double cream
- Little red paste food colouring
- A few pink primula flowers and/or viola flowers
- A few small strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas 4. To make the cake, grease and line the bases of 2 x 20 cm springform tins. Puree the strawberries then press through a sieve and discard their seeds.
2. With an electric mixer, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, lemon rind, 175g of the sugar, the strawberry puree and a little food colouring, for about 5 minutes until very thick.
3. Wash and dry the whisk then beat the egg whites to stiff peaks then gradually whisk in the remaining 50g sugar a teaspoon at a time until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
4. Mix the flour and baking powder together, sift over the top of the strawberry mix and gently combine. Stir in a large spoonful of the egg whites to loosen the mixture then very gently fold in the rest so that you keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
5. Gently spread the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is set, very lightly browned and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of each cake. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove the sides and cool completely before removing the base and paper (The cake will sink slightly as it cools).
6. Cut each cake in half, then put two of the halves to one side. Stack the remaining 2 and cut out a circle from the centre using a smaller 15cm baking tin as a template.
7. Put one of the whole circles of cake on a serving plate, spread a band of jam around the top of the outer edge about 2.5cm wide then place one of the ring cakes on top. Spread the top edge with jam, then add the second cake ring.
8. Add 2tbsp cold water to a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine, making sure that all the dry powder is absorbed by the water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
9. Pick out the best strawberries and arrange over the inside of the cake, when you know you have enough, take them out and set aside. Puree 175g of the remaining strawberries, press through a sieve and discard the seeds.
10. Stand the bowl of gelatine in a saucepan of gently simmering water and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time until it becomes a clear liquid.
11. Whisk the cream in a bowl until it forms soft peaks, add the strawberry puree and gradually mix in the gelatine until smooth. Spread a few spoonfuls inside the base of the cake, arrange the whole strawberries on top then cover with the remaining strawberry cream. Stick the remaining cake half in place with jam around the edges as before and chill for 4 hours.
12. About an hour before serving, whisk the mascarpone, lemon rind and icing sugar together in a bowl then gradually whisk in the cream until soft and spreadable, don’t whisk too vigorously or the frosting will be too thick to spread. Take out one third of the frosting and divide between two small bowls, colour one pale pink, the other a deeper pink.
13. Spread a very thin layer of the uncoloured frosting all over the cake to stick the crumbs in place then spread a thicker layer all over, being more generous on the top. Spread the sides smooth with a knife. Using a teaspoon and round bladed knife, press small dots of dark pink frosting in a band around the base of the cake. Make a second paler pink band above it and a third plain band of uncoloured frosting then smooth the sides to merge the colours with a palette knife. Decorate the top of the cake with edible flowers and small strawberries.
Tip: As this cake needs 4 hours chilling time, try making and filling the cake the day before then chill overnight and decorate an hour before serving and keep it in the fridge.