This delicious rose-scented cake filled with strawberries and fresh whipped cream is perfect for afternoon tea or any summer celebrations.
This recipe is in collaboration with Portmeirion.
Today marks what would have been Susan Williams-Ellis’ 100th birthday and what birthday is complete without cake? Susan was the founder of Portmeirion pottery and the woman who inspired the iconic Botanic Garden range which has been synonymous with the brand since its inception.
The Botanic Garden range is whimsical and romantic, featuring beautiful flowers and butterflies surrounded by a signature leaf border. Rather than have matching floral motifs, the range features different flowers inviting to you to mix and match the delicate pottery pieces.
Almost like wandering through an English cottage garden and picking a bouquet of fresh flowers, but with a lot more staying power! This way you can also add to your collection over time, building up your set gradually.
There’s so much to choice, from beautiful teapots to egg cups and obviously this pretty presentation pierced cake plate, set of side plates, super-cute measuring cups and delicate pastry forks which were top of my list.
Inspired by Portmeirion’s Botanical Garden range, I have come up with a cake that I think Susan Williams-Ellis would be proud to display on her beautiful tableware. It is essentially a white cake, one that I have made a number of times before as it is totally foolproof as well as incredibly delicious.
This time, I have added delicate rose water to the sponge which brings a very subtle floral hint that pairs wonderfully with the fresh strawberries and whipped cream filling.
And speaking of cream filling… I am a HUGE fan of fresh whipped cream as cake filling/frosting. It’s the easiest of all fillings, requiring few ingredients and almost universally adored.
The combination of soft cake and fresh cream is just so hard to beat, but unfortunately fresh whipped cream has the tendency to ooze out of cakes and make them hard to slice neatly. I have even had a cake collapse into two separate pieces once, so not a good look!
But fear not, there’s a very simple way to stabilise whipped cream, so that it can be confidently used to fill cakes or frost cupcakes and not melt into a puddle. The secret is adding gelatine which gives the cream that extra support it needs. As you will see from this cake, I had no problems slicing it or stacking two rather heavy layers together.
If you wanted to add jam, as you would in a traditional Victoria sponge, I would keep the jam and cream layers separate because jam also has that slip-slide cake effect.
I decorated my strawberry rose cake with fresh roses – they add so much wow factor and so much fragrance to an already beautiful cake. You could pipe extra whipped cream and add more fresh strawberries to decorate the top if you prefer.
How to make a rose layer cake
Step 1. Combine your dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, salt – in the bowl of your stand mixer or food processor (either can be used to make this cake).
Step 2. Combine the liquid ingredients – whole milk, egg whites, rose water and lemon zest in a measuring jug. I always use pasteurised egg whites from a carton for recipes that require them so as to avoid being stuck with a multitude of egg yolks. If the milk is cold then you might want to microwave the liquid ingredients for just 10-20 seconds so they come to room temperature.
Step 3. Add cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Pulse if using a food processor or mix with the paddle attachment on a mixer until you have a breadcrumb/sandy texture.
Step 4. Add the liquid ingredients and mix for one minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again until batter is smooth another 30 sec-1 minute.
Step 5. Divide the mixture between two 18cm (7 in) deep cake tins lined with baking paper and sprayed with cake release. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and coming away from the edges of the tin. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
How to stabilise whipped cream
Step 1. Use very cold double (heavy) cream – I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes – and whisk it together with 100g (1/2 cup) icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract until you have soft peaks. You can also use other extracts for flavouring the cream instead of vanilla or add food colouring etc.
Step 2. Sprinkle one sachet of gelatine powder over 2 tbsp of hot water. Stir to dissolve and then microwave for 10-20 seconds until it is liquid. Add to the cream once it has reached soft peaks and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Don’t over whip the cream or it might curdle.
Step 3. Put the whipped cream in the fridge for 20 minutes before using to pipe over the cake or use as frosting.
Assembling the rose layer cake
Step 1. Position your bottom cake layer on a platter or stand and pipe generous rosettes of cream over it.
Step 2. Scatter halved strawberries over the cream and then even out with more cream if needed. Drizzle with strawberry rose syrup.
Step 3. Sandwich with the second layer. You can pipe any extra cream over the top layer if you like and decorate with more strawberries. Alternatively dust with icing sugar and/or decorate with fresh unsprayed roses or rose petals.
More summer cakes to try
- Lemon and elderflower layer cake – inspired by the Royal Wedding
- Eton mess cake
- Strawberries and cream naked cake
- Coconut vanilla naked cake
- Matcha and strawberry layer cake
Rose layer cake with strawberries and cream
For the cake
- 340 g | 12oz | 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
- 255 g | 9oz | 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 170 g | 6oz | 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cubed
- 240 ml | 8.4fl oz | 1 cup whole milk
- 180 ml | 6.3fl oz | 3/4 cups liquid egg whites
- 2 tsp rose water
- Zest of 1 lemon
Whipped cream & filling
- 450 g | 1 lb cold heavy cream
- 100 g | 3 1/2oz | 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 sachet powdered gelatine
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g |1 cup strawberries halved, for filling cake
Strawberry rose syrup
- 150 g |1 cup strawberries halved
- 150 g | 3/4 cup sugar
- 2-3 tbsp rose water
- Make the strawberry rose syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the strawberries start to release their juice about 5-10 minutes. Strain into a bowl, pressing on the strawberries. Cool before using.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray 2 x18cm/7in cake tins (or 2x23cm/9in tins) with cake release and line with baking parchment. Spray the parchment too.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and briefly mix together on low speed to combine.
- Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- In a measuring jug, mix together the milk, egg whites, lemon zest and rosewater.
- Add the egg white mixture into the batter, in three stages, mixing well on low speed after each addition. Increase the speed and mix for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cakes are risen and coming away from the edges of the tin. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
- Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
- Whisk the cold cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract until you have soft peaks.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle one sachet of gelatine powder over 2 tbsp of hot water. Stir to dissolve and then microwave for 10-20 seconds until it is liquid. Add the hot gelatine into the cream once it reaches soft peaks and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Don’t over whip the cream or it might curdle. Put the whipped cream in the fridge for 20 minutes before using.
- Position your bottom cake layer on a platter or stand and pipe generous rosettes of cream over it.
- Scatter halved strawberries over the cream and then even out with more cream if needed. Drizzle with a little of the strawberry rose syrup.
- Sandwich with the second layer. You can pipe any extra cream over the top layer if you like and decorate with more strawberries. Alternatively dust with icing sugar and/or decorate with fresh unsprayed roses or rose petals.
- This cake is best eaten on the day it is assembled but will keep in the fridge for another day.