Strawberries & Cream Sponge Cake

Monday, September 22, 2014

I must confess that prior to beginning the journey of this recipe, I had a slight aversion to (or rather, fear of) sponge cakes, for two main reasons.

Reason number 1: The recipe requires the whipping of egg whites. Not that I am scared of this, but rather the lack of a stand-mixer in my kitchen requires a labour of love and 10 minutes of semi-vigorous physical activity to achieve glossy, stiff-peaked whites.

Reason number 2: It's hard to predict how successfully the cake will turn out, as there are a number of variables that could cause it to go downhill. For example, overbeating the egg, beating too much air out of the mixture or having a cake that disappointingly deflates upon taking out of the oven. I say this because the latter happened to me the last time I attempted a sponge to make lamingtons. I later realised I hadn't left it in the oven long enough to rise and become stable.


Fears aside, when we made our very first trip to Costco yesterday (Oh! The sheer excitement at wandering around a busy warehouse full of bulk-packaged food and household goods!) we arrived home with a 1.5 kilogram punnet of plump, ruby-red strawberries. And so what better time to use them than in a sponge, sandwiched between lashings of whipped cream and fluffy cake.

This sponge recipe comes from Blue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes from the Sydney Royal Easter Show. As the title suggests, the book features selected recipes of prize-winners from the baking section of the Easter Show; a dedication to the classics such as Lamingtons, Date and Nut Loaf, Shortbread and Fruit Cake as well as jam-making and preserving. I've attempted a number of recipes from this cookbook, with hit-and-miss results, but this sponge cake is simple to make and looks spectacular.

Overall it took just over an hour to bake the sponge from start to end (with 10 minutes spent lining the pans...), and the result out of the oven were two lovely light, golden, springy rounds of cake about 3 centimetres high.

The longer you leave the cakes in the oven, the coarser the crumb will be. But don't leave them in for too short a time, as they may deflate upon taking out (like mine did previously); the ideal cooking time is around 15 to 20 minutes, so this is where oven temperature is crucial. Get to know your oven, mine is fan-forced so I started baking at 175 degrees before lowering it to 170 degrees in the last 5 minutes as the tops were getting a bit brown.

I wasn't quite sure how to assemble the sandwich as the recipe didn't give any details (this is perhaps one of the only downsides of baking from an old recipe!), so simply sliced the strawberries into 7 to 8 centimetre slices and lay them in a circular pattern on top of the whipped cream. Be generous with the strawberries, as they give a lovely burst of freshness to the cake.

It was upon eating a scrumptious piece that I noted the cake was a little bit dry on the side where the strawberries met the top layer of sponge. This could be remedied by spreading a little bit of jam under the top layer, which adds a bit of sweetness, or more cream on top of the strawberries. Alternatively you could fold the chopped strawberries into the cream sweetened with a bit of caster or icing sugar. I think some recipes call of the latter, but it you prefer the aesthetics of a layer of strawberries, you might opt for the former.

 The top was dusted with icing sugar and I was going to attempt the whole delicately-sliced- strawberry decoration but it didn't quite turn out, so left it al naturale.

The cake itself was light, fluffy and not too sweet; I guess that's what the sweet filling is meant to compensate for. This is best eaten fresh, perhaps with a dollop of extra cream on the side or a scoop of ice cream! A perfect classic that is delicate for morning or afternoon tea, or even for dessert.

Sponge Sandwich
Recipe by Lorna Knapp from Blue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes from the Sydney Royal Easter Show
Makes one 20-cm cake

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of plain flour, slightly rounded
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 300mL single cream, lightly whipped
  • One punnet (250g) strawberries, washed
  • Ice cream and extra strawberries, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius, remembering that all ovens are different.
  2. Grease and line two 18 cm tins but butter or oil spray, alternatively grease and dust with flour, tipping tins to get rid of excess.
  3. Separate eggs and beat egg whites until firm. Add caster sugar slowly, beating until all is dissolved. Test if dissolved between thumb and finger
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, taking care not to overbeat.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times and add about one third to the egg mixture, mixing in with a metal spoon at first to stabilise the mixture until combined. Follow by adding the rest of the flour mixture, folding in gently with a spatula or wooden spoon, ensuring mixture is combined.
  6. Divide mixture between the two lined tins, using a spatula to smooth surface and tapping gently on the edge to get rid or any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 23 minutes, or until cakes come away form the sides of the tins and spring back lightly when touched in the centre.
  8. Turn out immediately onto wire racks lined with baking paper or a tea towel, and cool completely.
  1. Slice the tops of the strawberries and cut into 7 to 8 millimetre slices, patting dry with kitchen towel to absorb any excess liquid.
  2. Turn both cakes upside down, I find the bottom side has a more uniform surface and is flatter. Place the slightly less attractive cake on the bottom on top of baking paper or a plate. Spread 2/3 of the cream over the top of the first layer, taking care not to get too close to the edge.
  3. Lay the strawberries on top, overlapping if necessary. Spread the remainder of the cream on the bottom of the second layer and place this on top of the strawberries. Press the top lightly to secure.
  4. Dust with icing sugar and serve!
This cake is best eaten fresh but keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.

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  1. This is basically my favourite dessert ever! Love the simplicity of sponge cake with strawberries and cream. Will have to give this recipe a go!

    1. Yes, I never really ate or made much of this dessert before, but now I know how simple and delicious it is!