Every once in a while, the cooking shows on television come up trumps with their offerings and this is one of them.
Recently, the BBC had a series called Sweet Baby James, where chef James Martin shared his love of desserts, puddings and cakes. This one particular cake caught my eye, as it looked to be one of the easiest and most elegant looking to make.
It was, in fact, super easy to put together, you could even buy a ready made sponge flan case as James used, or make your own, as I did. The filling is a dream to whip up and has a more luxurious taste than plain whipped cream. The only part I found time consuming and difficult was the spun sugar that James recommends for the top of the cake. I got as far as making the caramel and decided to pour it on in 'streaks', but as it hit the icing sugar it rolled into little balls and flew all over the top! I also omitted the diamond pattern on top as I couldn't get the skewers hot enough in the time I had.
If you are an expert at making spun sugar, putting it on top and doing the diamond pattern with the skewer will give this cake the 'wow' factor.
Strawberry Cream Cake
Adapted from James Martin
1 large ready-made sponge or flan case
750ml/1¼ pints double cream
25g/1oz caster sugar
1 shot of orange liqueur
200ml/7fl oz ready-made custard
75g/2½oz caster sugar - for the spun sugar, optional
2-3 punnets strawberries, hulled and halved length-ways; leave about ten small ones whole, to garnish
50g/2oz icing sugar
oil, for greasing
large handful mixed berries, such as redcurrants, blueberries and blackberries
few sprigs fresh mint
In a large clean bowl, whip the double cream with 25g/1oz of the caster sugar and the orange liqueur until the mixture holds soft peaks. Fold in the custard, then place into the fridge to chill.
Using a 20-25cm/8-10in stainless steel cake ring, or the outside ring of a spring form cake tin, cut out the centre of the sponge/flan case. Using a sharp bread knife, carefully cut the sponge in half horizontally to make two thin layers. Place the ring onto a large serving plate and place one of the sponge layers inside to line the base.
Line the ring with the largest of the strawberry halves, cut-side facing outwards against the ring. Slice the remaining strawberry halves and lay in the centre of the ring. Then top with the cream mixture and smooth the top with a knife. Place the remaining sponge layer on top of the cream and dust heavily with the icing sugar.
Carefully remove the cake ring, if you have trouble you can warm the edges with a hot cloth or a mini-blowtorch and then lift it off.
Place the remaining 75g/2½oz caster sugar into a very clean pan and heat gently until it caramelises, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
While the caramel is cooling, carefully heat a metal skewer until red hot by holding it over a hot hob, then use the hot skewer to score the top of the cake in lines to create a diamond pattern.
Lightly oil a metal steel and shake spoonfuls of the caramel back and forth over the steel to make thin strands of caramel. Gather them up to make a loose ball.
To serve, top the cake with the reserved small strawberries and the mixed berries. Garnish with mint sprigs and top with the spun sugar.(Printable Recipe)