Berry Lovely: How to Whip Up the Perfect Fresh Strawberry Birthday Cake!

Strawberry Birthday Cake

This strawberry and cream cake is the soft, velvety strawberry cake of your dreams! A light and fluffy vanilla sponge is filled with fresh strawberries and stabilised strawberry and vanilla whipped cream with fresh strawberries on top - perfect for a birthday or special occasion. If you love strawberries and cream then you will love how light and delicious this cake is. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader. I called her Azalea.

The cake base for this strawberry sponge cake is the easiest sponge cake you will ever make. Last year I shared a recipe for the hot milk sponge cake, the neverfail, less problematic, less temperamental version of a sponge or chiffon sponge. I'm actually convinced that a hot milk sponge is what a lot of bakeries use because it is reliable, easy and always rises perfectly and it tastes like a classic vanilla sponge cake from your childhood. It has a mix of the moistness of a butter cake and the lightness of a sponge. And if you have a Thermomix, it is a cinch in it. In fact the cake and the cream can be done in the Thermomix!

Tips For Making This Strawberry and Cream Birthday Cake

Strawberry Birthday Cake

1 - Use cake flour for this sponge cake -this produces a softer textured cake. Cake flour can be bought at the supermarket or made at home (please see recipe below).

2 - Instead of using round cake tins we will cut out rounds out of a sheet of sponge cake. Often with sponge cakes, the sides shrink in but this way the sides of your cake are perfect and straight.

3 - I use a large Swiss Roll tin for this that measures 40x30x5cm or 15.7x11.1x2inches.

4 - Dice the strawberries and mix them with sugar to allow the juices to seep out of the berries so that they don't bleed on the cake. Strain the juice from the strawberries and then fill the cake.

5 - Stabilised whipped cream is really the way to go if the weather is even slightly warm. Stabilised whipped cream is often made with gelatine but I actually prefer this version of stabilised whipped cream using cream cheese. There's just enough cream cheese to give this a firmer hold but not affect the taste. I also use thickened cream rather than pure cream as this contains gelatine. Having said that, this is still whipped cream so I wouldn't risk it by putting it out in the sweltering heat and the cake still needs chilling but it really does help. And for whipped cream, please use only full fat cream and cream cheese.

6 - I added some finely ground freeze dried strawberries that I was sent from Jen at Trinity Bites, a locally owned small business who is also a reader and that really upps the strawberry flavour.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

I promise as soon as you slice into this cake you'll see what a special cake it is. It is so soft and is delicious even the next day as some of the cream absorbs into the cake and makes it even softer. It hardly provides any resistance at all when you cut into it. I made this last week during our last few days of holidays and we shared some with neighbours but ate most of it. We have had a great break, spending time with family and friends and even going away to Newcastle for a little holiday. One of the most fun nights was when we went to a friend's place for dinner with Teddy and Milo.

Lucy and Dan invited us over for a platter party along with Mrs Martin and Martin. We all met through Sammie who introduced us before she moved overseas. We all bonded because we are all dog mums and all treat our dogs as if they were our cherished children (because they are). Lucy and Dan have Paolo, a cavoodle while Mrs Martin and Martin have Scotch, a doodle.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

We weren't quite sure if the dogs would get along. Scotch is selective about what dogs he likes while little Paolo is just a bit awkward around other dogs. He often hangs around with the humans or watches on while the dogs get on dogging.

We all brought platters to eat - we brought a potato platter and a dessert platter while Mrs Martin brought a baklava platter and a charcuterie platter. Lucy put together a samosa and bhaji platter and made a Christmas tree pullapart while Dan made his annual turkey curry as they had lots of turkey leftover from Christmas. When Lucy told me about it I got very excited because I remember three words from Bridget Jones Diary "Turkey curry buffet" and I've never had a turkey curry before.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

While the food and human company was obviously a highlight, it was an absolute joy watching the dogs play together. Scotch realised that out of the other three dogs, Milo was probably the closest in energy and enthusiasm. Teddy is more aloof and mature at almost 5 years of age and Paolo just isn't a dog's dog - Scotch and Paolo happily coexist but nothing more.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

We also thought that we'd try the impossible i.e. to get a group picture. It all seemed too difficult at first, when three dogs sat perfectly one would wander off (Teddy, I'm looking at you, he does what he wants). But with the aid of many treats, we got the money shot! It was such a fun night that I'd gladly do it again. Hell I'd pay money to play with 4 dogs for hours haha!

So tell me Dear Reader, what did you get up to during your holidays? What were your highlights?

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry Birthday Cake

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 45 minutes plus 30 minutes steeping time

Cooking time: 23 minutes

Serves: 6-8 people

Vanilla Sponge Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups/310ml/11flozs. whole milk
  • 1 stick/113g butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups/385g/13.6ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups/300g/10.6ozs cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For Filling

  • 200g/7ozs fresh strawberries plus 100g extra for decorating on top
  • 40g/1.4ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar syrup (see easiest sugar syrup recipe)

For Stabilised Whipped Cream

  • 100g/3.5ozs cream cheese (full fat only)
  • 120g/4ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 500ml/1pint thickened cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 tablespoons freeze dried strawberry powder (optional)

Cake flour can be bought at the supermarket. You can also make it at home. To make 1 cup/150g/5.2ozs of cake flour replace 2 tablespoons of plain all purpose flour with cornflour/fine cornstarch and whisk well. I usually mix up a big batch of this and keep it in a container ready for baking cakes as it produces a softer texture.

Pro-tip: place your mixing bowl and whisk or Thermomix bowl in the fridge 1 hour before whipping the cream and make sure that the cream is very cold. This will help the cream whip up better.

Step 1 - Line a 40x30x5cm/15.7x11.1x2inch Swiss roll tin on the base and sides with parchment. Preheat oven to 160C/320F.

Step 2a - In a saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted and stir in the salt (do not boil, just scald the milk). Set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla for 5 minutes until syrupy thick and very pale yellow (almost white). Add the hot milk butter mixture and whisk for 15 seconds or until incorporated. Then sift in the flour mixture and whisk on low speed in two lots until smooth (do not overmix). It will be a very liquidy batter.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Step 2 b Thermomix directions - Add the milk, butter and salt into the Thermomix bowl and set to 4 minutes, 100C, speed #1. Pour into a jug and set aside. Add the sugar into the bowl first (so that the residual bowl heat doesn't cook the eggs) and then the eggs and vanilla and insert butterfly whisk. Set to 3 minutes, speed #4 -it should be very pale yellow (almost white) and syrupy in texture (see above). Add the hot milk butter mixture and set to 15 seconds, speed #4. Then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and set to 10 seconds, speed #4. It will be quite a very liquidy batter.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Step 3 - Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-23minutes or until the centre springs back when gently pressed. Cool on a cake rack.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Step 4 - To assemble, dice the strawberries and mix with the sugar and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. The strawberries will release all of the liquid.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Step 4a - Make the stabilised whipped cream. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until combined (around 1 minute). Add the cream and vanilla and whisk until peaks form that can hold their shape. Be careful not to overwhip. If you see it starting to overwhip and start to become grainy, add 2-3 tablespoons of cream to the mixture and whisk this in. Stir in the strawberry powder if using.

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Adding freeze dried strawberry powder

Step 4b - Thermomix stabilised whipped cream: Place the cream cheese and sugar in the TM bowl with the butterfly attachment and whisk for 15 seconds speed #4. Add the cream and vanilla and set for 2 minutes, speed 4. After a minute remove the measuring cup and watch the cream and whisk until peaks form that can hold their shape. Be careful not to overwhip. If you see it starting to overwhip and start to become grainy, add 2-3 tablespoons of cream to the mixture and whisk this in. Keep in the fridge while you assemble the cake until needed. Stir in the strawberry powder if using.

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Cutting out the cake

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Scraping away the brown crust

Step 5 - Cut three 18cm/7inch discs of cake out of the sheet of cake and place one on a cake stand, cake round or turntable. I also use a knife to scrape off the layer of brown crust on top just for the appearance. Brush with the sugar syrup and then layer with 1cm of cream. Drain the strawberries and place half of the strawberries on the cream. Place second layer on top and repeat with sugar syrup, cream and the rest of the drained strawberries. Place the last layer on top and brush with syrup.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Then strawberries

Strawberry Birthday Cake
Layers of cake

Step 6 - Then spread the whipped cream around the top and sides of the cake using an angled spatula to smooth it. Reserve 3/4 cup of the whipped cream to pipe around the edges. Place in a piping bag and cut a 1cm/0.4inch hole at the top and pipe dollops of cream around the edge. Fill the centre with strawberries. I like popping the whole cake in the freezer for 30 minutes just to let it set and cut well. Keep refrigerated. This cake lasts for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry Birthday Cake

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