There’s no better way to celebrate the summer bounty of strawberries than with a beautiful layer cake. I like to throw some black pepper into the classic strawberry and cream mix. It might be a bit unconventional, but it certainly works – trust me!
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
For the sponge:
- 75g unsalted butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 125g sugar
- 150g plain yoghurt
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
For the whipped cream icing:
- 750ml whipping cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 100g sugar
For the spiced strawberries:
- 900g strawberries (800g halved and leaves removed, plus 100g for garnish)
- 150ml water
- 150g sugar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
- First make the spiced strawberries. Hull and halve the strawberries.
- Place the water, sugar, black pepper and a pinch of salt into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take off the heat, then add the halved strawberries and chill in the fridge until needed.
- For the sponge, preheat oven to 160°C and melt the butter.
- Whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick, pale and fluffy.
- Pour in the melted butter and the yoghurt.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients before mixing into the rest of the ingredients. Don’t overmix or you’ll end up with a heavy cake.
- Pour the batter into a 19-cm cake tin.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. If the cake is browning too fast, cover it with aluminium foil. Remove from tin and place on a cake rack.
- Leave to cool for 30 minutes before slicing horizontally into 3 pieces. If you have a plate with a lip on it, place the whole cake upside down on the plate and use the edge of the plate to guide a bread knife across in a straight line, removing the peaked top (you can discard this). Repeat this process to end up with 3 layers of cake.
- To make the whipped cream icing, run a knife along the vanilla pod, slice through the middle and scoop out the seeds using the back of the knife. Add to the cream.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla, until firm enough to ice the cake.
- Assemble the cake starting with the top part on the bottom (this way, the bottom will be on top, leaving a smooth finish).
- Using a pastry brush, generously dab the cake crumb with some of the strawberry syrup.
- Spread a quarter of the cream on top of the crumb. Add a third of the macerated strawberries.
- Repeat twice more.
- Top the cake with the fresh strawberries.
- Spread the rest of the cream around the sides.
- Serve within 2 days.
- The strawberries in syrup can be made in advance.
- The sponge can be made 1 day ahead and wrapped well in cling film once cool.
Check out Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London, which can be seen on Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC Lifestyle (HK Cable TV channel 131 and now TV channel 221).