Strawberry Cream Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the strawberry puree:
  • 350g fresh ripe strawberries
METHOD:
  1. Wash and dry the berries. Remove the stems and place into a food processor or blender. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds.
For the icing:
  • 250g marscarpone
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 80g strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Beat the marscarpone with a spoon in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Add the strawberry puree in four batches, beating to combine between each addition. Put into the fridge to chill and set a bit while you make the sponges etc.
For the sponges:
  • 105g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 45ml cold water
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
METHOD:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line two 7″ tins (or 6″ – I used these the first time).
  3. Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together three times.  Place the yolks and water in bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sugar and whip for appox 5 minutes – until the mixture is pale, fluffy and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
  5. Add the vanilla and whip for a few seconds to combine. Transfer the mixture to another bowl (unless you have two stand mixer bowls) and wash the bowl up, drying it carefully. Whip the egg whites in the mixer to stiff peaks.
  6. Place the yolk mix bowl on a damp cloth to stop it moving. With your non-dominant hand sift the flour slowly over the yolk mix, while your dominant hand folds it in, using a whisk. Use a large metal spoon to add and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Finally fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whites.
  7. Quickly transfer the mixture to the two tins and put in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes – a skewer should come out clean from the middle of the cake and it should spring back from a touch. Immediately slide a knife around the edge of each cake so that it shrinks evenly.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to the rack and peel off the paper.
For the vanilla syrup:
  • 75ml water
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
METHOD:
  1. While the sponges are baking, place the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the pod and add both the seeds and pod to the pan. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Leave to steep until needed.
To assemble:
  • 100ml double cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries
  • remaining strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Split the cool sponges into two with a serrated knife. Cut the strawberries into thin slices of about 1/2 cm.
  2. Cover the serving plate with four strips of baking parchment and then set one sponge circle on top. Brush 1/4 of the syrup over the sponge.
  3. Spoon over about 2-3 tbsp of strawberry puree, spreading it out as you go. Spread a 1/3 of the whipped cream over the top, leaving a small space around the edge.  Arrange 1/3 of the strawberry slices over the cream in a single layer.
  4. Add the next sponge circle and press it down lightly. Repeat the syrup, puree, cream and strawberries for this circle and the next. F
  5. inally add the last layer and brush over the last 1/4 of the syrup. If you like, cut a wooden skewer to size and use as a dowel to keep everything in place. Use about 1/3 of the icing to create a crumb coat, concentrating on filling any gaps on the sides between layers.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes. Finally smooth over the rest of the icing and add any decoration – I piped whipped cream dots on the first, then wrote on the second with white chocolate.

(Serves 10-12)

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