Strawberries and cream are, for me, summer in a nutshell. When I was little I couldn’t wait for strawberry season and I still greet the arrival of proper strawberries with equal enthusiasm now. I love using them in baking and desserts, in smoothies and drinks, or just eating them whole with a tiny dusting of sugar and squirt of lemon juice.
According to research conducted by Seasonal Berries, strawberries are the fruit that most awaken our senses and evoke strong memories and emotions. They discovered that certain sounds and smells actually make the strawberries taste sweeter and ‘fruitier’. You can put this to test if you like by listening to the soundscapes Seasonal Berries have put together along with instructions on how to create the whole sensory experience.
I am not entirely convinced that listening to the sounds makes the fruit taste any different, but I am in complete agreement that strawberries usually bring back wonderful memories. I baked this strawberries and cream naked cake for my neighbours’ daughter’s birthday and it was a dual celebration as they had just welcomed a baby boy two days previously. It is a beautifully simple, very tasty cake – I hope you make it and report back!
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- <b>For the cake</B>
- 330 g | 11.6oz plain flour
- 330 g | 11.6oz caster sugar
- 50 g | 1.7oz ground almonds
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g | 7oz unsalted butter cool but not hard, cubed
- 100 g | 3.5oz buttermilk
- 150 g | 5.3oz strawberries hulled and quartered
- cooked with 50g 1.7oz sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
- <b>To fill & decorate</b>
- 400 ml | 14fl oz cold double cream
- 200 g | 7oz icing powdered sugar
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 300 g | 10.5 oz fresh strawberries to fill and decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and flour 3 x 20 cm cake tins.
- Put the hulled and quartered strawberries in a small saucepan with the sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain any liquid and reserve. Blitz the cooked strawberries in a food processor or mini chopper until you have a smooth purée.
- Put all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, soda & salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix together using the paddle attachment on low speed.
- Add the cubed butter and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times.
- Mix the buttermilk with 100g (3.5oz) of strawberry purée.
- Add buttermilk/strawberry mixture and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl. Mix on low then high speed for a couple of minutes.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is completely smooth and divide it equally into the prepared tins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.The cakes are ready when springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack and then gently tap the cakes out of the tins. Make sure they are completely cool before frosting. Cakes can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept, wrapped, at room temperature.
- <b>To fill and decorate</b>
- Put the icing sugar, vanilla, elderflower cordial and double cream in your stand mixer and whisk at high speed until you have firm peaks. Transfer the cream into a large bag fitted with a large round tip.
- Brush the reserved strawberry liquid over the tops of the cakes.
- Pipe a wide ring of whipped cream all around the edge of the bottom cake layer and a large dot in the middle.
- Fill the space between the whipped cream with chopped strawberries. Repeat on second layer and top with the third.
- Pipe some cream on top of the cake then smooth it down to create a flat surface. Push any excess cream down the sides of the cake.
- Smooth the cream along the sides of the cake using a plain edge side scraper. You want to create a crumb coating but still be able to see the sponge underneath. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Decorate the top of the cake with whole strawberries (cut the top off so they lie down flat) and some edible flowers if you can find them.
- Best eaten on day of decorating although it can be kept in the fridge for one day.
I love 'naked' cakes. Almost certainly the invention of a baker who had either run out of frosting or time (or both) they are a very easy way of frosting a cake without having to worry about perfection. If you want to frost the cake 'properly', make a little extra whipped cream and frost after the crumb coating sets in the fridge (step 6).