Remember the scene in one of the first Pippi Longstocking movies where she goes to Tommy and Anika’s house and their mom is hosting afternoon tea with the ladies? Pippi looks like anything but a lady,
swiping her finger along cake frosting, stuffing her face with cookies, completely oblivious to the stunned stares from the women around her. Remember that?
This is the sort of cake you would expect to see in that scene with all the pretty china, dainty table linens and dreamy desserts. It screams Spring is here! And summer is not far behind.
Layers of light vanilla-speckled sponge cake nestled against fluffy cream and juicy strawberries. When I dream about cake, this is what I see.
There have been repeated requests for this cake as soon as I reach for my baking apron. So many of these have been baked chez nous that I can almost go without referring to the recipe. The formula is flawless and full-proof.
Using quality ingredients never hurts. I have a reputation for splurging on butter and free-range eggs, organic milk, Madagascar vanilla beans. Hope you don’t find me snooty. I’ve been through my fair-share of sponge cake recipes and most demand the patience of a saint.
“Carefully SEPARATE the eggs.“
“Whip the whites til SOFT peaks form.”
“Gently FOLD the dry ingredients into the egg whites.“
Then there’s always the impending danger of DEFLATING your egg whites.
Never mind about all the leftover yolks. What to do with them? You can’t just throw them away. Think about how hard the hens worked to produce those eggs. The usual sponge cake recipes require so much tiptoeing about that there is hardly any room left for FUN.
Then this one found me during a typical late-night escapade, scouring the internets for tasty things to make. If you have a stand mixer and short attention-span (like I do), you are going to LOVE making this cake.
It’s fun, because you get to do cool new things, like letting the mixer run wild for 4 minutes, then for another 4 minutes. And you do weird stuff like melt the butter into the milk.
In the end, you always get a winner, even if you overbake a bit, like I did last night. And, it’s just such a pretty cake. Even those of us who have the cake-decorating grace of a bull in a china shop can do this. Each time. Every time. Guaranteed. Or your money back.
Strawberry + Cream Vanilla Sponge Cake
Adapted from cakeboss
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 whole grade A free-range eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 vanilla beans (or 2 tsp extract)
2 cups strawberries, chopped
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
Grease and flour two 8″ round cake pans.
Heat milk and butter in a small pot on low heat. After the butter has melted, remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Sift flour, baking powder & salt together into a clean bowl. Set aside.
Beat eggs in stand mixer with paddle for 4 minutes. Set the kitchen timer to 4 minutes.
Reset the timer for another 4 minutes and add sugar. Beat until creamy.
Grate zest of lemon and add 1 tsp of it to the mixture.
Using a sharp knife, cut one of the vanilla beans lengthwise down the center
and scrape the seeds and pulp out.
Add the sifted dry ingredients a bit at a time and mix just long enough to incorporate.
Add milk and butter.
Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans and pop into the warm oven.
Bake until fragrant, maybe 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash and chop strawberries into small chunks. Collect them into a clean bowl and set aside.
Insert a clean toothpick into the center of each cake. If
the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is ready.
Remove from oven and allow the cakes to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Then, turn them onto a metal rack to finish cooling.
Using the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream with pulp from the second vanilla bean and confectioner’s sugar til fluffly.
Cut cooled cakes in half horizontally. Place one layer of the cake onto a pretty plate.
Spread about a 1/4th of the whipped cream over the cake, sprinkle some strawberry bits over the cream and set another layer of cake on top.
Repeat layering the cake with whipped cream and strawberries until all 4 cake layers are assembled.
Cover and chill until ready to serve.