Wednesday, January 27, 2016

simple food : the best birthday sponge cake

You know it's a relaxed and enjoyable birthday celebration when you're searching for birthday paraphernalia at the bottom of the drawer and you happily uncover a few burnt-before candles of the champagne bottle variety. Mismatched candles aside, this cake is my absolute favourite and it never, ever disappoints.

Somehow I've become the official birthday cake baker in the family. I never aspired to such a role but here I am, sifting flour and whipping cream. Given the choice I'll always bake a classic carrot cake with cream cheese icing but for something a bit sweeter, I make Sipi's Strawberry Cake - found years ago in the delightful book that is Falling Cloudberries. And if you have a penchant for heartfelt cookbooks designed with colour and quirk, I've just discovered that its predecessor, Apples for Jam, is only $8.95!

Back to the cake. 

There's nothing quite as comforting as a jam and cream sponge but getting the sponge just right can be tricky. Turns out that fluffiness is based on the quality of your egg whites - they need to be whipped into voluminous peaks and then folded, not stirred, into the buttery batter. 

I'll be making two of these beauties for Percy's 1st birthday in early March. If you fancy making one too, I highly recommend! It's best eaten on the day that it's made but it will keep for one day in the fridge.

Sipi's Strawberry Cake

220g (1 3/4 cups) plain flour
180g (3/4 cup) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
180g butter, melted
185ml (3/4 cup) warm milk
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
800g strawberries
4 tbsp strawberry jam (my addition because you can't have sponge without jam)
1 tsp lemon juice
3tbsp icing sugar
750ml (3 cups) double cream

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
2.Grease and flour a 22cm springform tin or a bundt pan.
3. Put the flour and sugar in a bowl with 1 tsp of the baking powder.
4. Mix in the butter and then stir in the milk.
5. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat in well.
6. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, incorporating the rest of the baking powder when the eggs have started fluffing up.
7. Fold the whites into the cake mixture.
8. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the top is deep golden and crisp.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a bit before turning out onto a rack. When cool, slice the cake in half horizontally and put the bottom half on a large serving plate.
10. Clean and hull the strawberries.
11. Dice about half the strawberries and sprinkle with a little lemon juice and 1 tblespn of the icing sugar
12. Whip the cream into stiff peaks with the remaining icing sugar.
13. Spread jam over the bottom of the cake and then mix the diced strawberries with about a third of the whipped cream and spoon over the jam.
14. Put the other half of the cake on top and thickly spoon the remaining cream over the top and sides, then decorate with the rest of the strawberries


  1. Apples for Jam is gorgeous! You will love it as well :)

  2. A simple sponge is our go-to cake as well. Though I like mine with strawberries AND blueberries in the middle with passion fruit icing. Or made like an oversized lamington. Lucky I married a baker! (Soon to be opening our new bakery in San Remo.)


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