A quick post and a quick recipe! Recently, I've been purchasing too many strawberries. Now, I am a huge strawberry enthusiast - they're surely one of the most aesthetically adorable fruits; they're great fresh, frozen and pureed; and are delicious in desserts, salads or eaten straight from the punnet. For me to say I have gone overboard means I have really bought too many for even me to consume and enjoy. So when myself and two of my closest friends went to visit the other member of our quartet who had recently come out of hospital, it was a great excuse to bring a cake to use up some of my strawberry supply.
As I mentioned, this cake is so easy and delicious. Who would have thought it was possible to layer sponge batter and meringue in the same tin to make what I like to call a macaron cake. It's obviously not like a macaron, but the way the sponge form a foot to a puffy, golden meringue top reminded me of the satisfaction of pulling a good batch of macarons from the oven.
Two of these beautifully light cakes sandwiched with Chantilly cream and an abundance of fresh strawberries was a huge hit, and hopefully lifted the spirits of our patient.
Recipe from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson
125 gms plain flour
25 gms cornflour
a 1/2 tsps baking powder
100 gms unsalted butter, softened
300 gms caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
50 gms flaked almonds
2 tbsps milk
2 tsps vanilla bean paste
375 mls double cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
250 gms strawberries
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line, butter and flour 2 x 22cm spring form tins.
Weigh out the flour, cornflour and baking powder into a bowl. Cream the butter and 100 gms of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, add the vanilla, and stir through the milk to thin the batter. Divide the mixture evenly among the two prepared tins.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, and then gradually add the remaining caster sugar. Spread a layer of meringue over the top of the sponge batter in both tins. Sprinkle almonds evenly over tops. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until the tops of each have puffed and the almonds are golden. Let the cakes cool in their tins.
Whip the double cream with vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. Sandwich your cake generously with cream and strawberries.
Now, I should mention that I loathe my oven. Yes, it's a bit of an excuse to blame your oven for imperfections (a workman never blames his tools etc.), but I have tried very hard to work with its weaknesses and this effort is often the source of many frustrations. This cake was no exception - I burnt some of the almonds and areas of the sponge's crust :( And only after about 15 minutes of cooking time! So, be aware of a potential shorter cooking time if your relationship with your oven is anything like mine. But with time, I have been able to realise that one of the best things about baking - despite my high standards sometimes being crippling to my ego - is that the results are always edible and enjoyed by all. Even me.
Recommended baking soundtrack: Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It in People.