Serves 8 to 12
* 3 1/4 cups (16.25oz) all-purpose flour
* 3/4 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 15oz unsalted butter, softened
* 2 tbsp light corn syrup
* 2 cups (14oz) sugar
* 6 large eggs
* 1/3 cup (2.66oz) crème fraîche or sour cream
* 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
For the mascarpone frosting
* 1 1/2 cups (12oz) mascarpone
* 1/2 cup (2.25oz) icing sugar
* 1 tsp grated lemon zest
* 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
* 1 cup (8oz) heavy cream
* 5 cups (41.6oz) strawberries, half left whole, half sliced 1/2 inch thick
1. Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 180°C. Coat the bottom and sides of three shallow nine-inch round cake tins with butter and line with baking paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. In a separate bowl cream the butter, corn syrup, and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, and vanilla in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the creamed butter and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, until well combined.
5. Divide the batter among the prepared cake tins, spreading it evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. Rotate the cakes and bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until the cakes appear firm with a matte finish and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the tins on cooling racks. You can refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the cake.
For the frosting
1. In a medium bowl mix the mascarpone, icing sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla paste together, until thoroughly combined.
2. In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the mascarpone mixture and beat until combined and smooth; as soon as the frosting looks smooth, stop beating. If the frosting is overbeaten, it will become grainy.
To assemble the cake
1. Run a small knife around the sides of the tins to release the layers and invert them onto cooling racks; peel off the parchment paper. Transfer one layer to a serving plate, top side down.
2. Spread about one-third of the frosting (just under one cup) evenly over the top of the layer. Layer half the sliced strawberries over the frosting, without overlapping them, then spread about two tablespoons of frosting over the berries in the centre of the cake. This will help seal the layers together.
3. Place the second cake layer top side down on top of the berries and repeat the same pattern of frosting, berries, and frosting. Top with the last cake layer, top side down, and spread the remaining frosting evenly on top.
3. Arrange the whole strawberries around the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be stored, in a cake box or under a cake dome, in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Variations and tips
Orange cake: make the batter, then add two tablespoons grated orange zest, two tablespoons orange juice, and one teaspoon orange oil and beat for 30 seconds.
Lemon cake: make the batter, then add one tablespoon grated lemon zest and two tablespoons lemon juice and beat for 30 seconds.
Tip: it might sound curious, but a delicate drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar on top of the strawberries is a lovely way to accentuate the flavours in this cake. Don’t add the vinegar until just before serving, or it will cause the berries to break down rapidly.
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Extracted from Sweet: Inspired Ingredients published by Artisan, £25. Copyright 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk