A Fabulous Summer Birthday Cake : White Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream

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I’ve been absolutely loving the sunny weather that us Brits have been treated to lately. Its amazing. There’s nothing better than waking up with the sun pouring through the window and heading out for the day without taking a jacket. In my view, sunshine makes everything better!

A couple of weekends ago we got the first bout of amazing weather and it seemed to come out of nowhere. I’d organised a theatre trip for two of my girlfriends as they’d both recently had birthdays and instead of buying them a present, I decided to arrange a surprise day of fun. I bought tickets for Matilda way in advance but had no idea what we’d do for lunch. Ideally I wanted to make some sort of birthday tea, like we used to have when we were little, jelly and ice cream etc. I certainly wanted to make them a birthday cake, maybe something chocolatey.

Then when I woke up on the Saturday, it was glorious, the sun was blazing and it was forecast to be even better the following day. The birthday tea idea was therefore swiftly thrown out of the window and replaced by a BBQ. I spent the morning flicking through cookbooks deciding on what to cook and most important of all was the cake.

If I was sensible I would have made something which could be done the day before but when I turned to this Strawberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake in The Great British Bake Off cookbook I was hooked. It was completely impractical as I would have to get up at the crack of dawn, it also looked rather tricky and I’m not the best baker but it just looked so summery. Nothing could compare. And so, this was the cake that I made.

Luckily it turned out to be a whopping success (otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting your time telling you about it here) and I think the birthday girls were pretty pleased. I would never have thought of putting white chocolate in the sponge mixture but it made a huge difference.

The cake serves about 12 people and it won’t keep very well so best to make it when you know it will be eaten on the same day.

Here is what you will need:

FOR THE SPONGE

150g good-quality white chocolate, broken up
200g unsalted butter, diced and softened
3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of ½ unwaxed orange
200g self-raising flour

FOR THE FILLING AND TOPPING
400g ripe strawberries
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ unwaxed orange
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200ml double or whipping cream, well chilled
50g good-quality white chocolate, to decorate
2 x 20.5cm sandwich tins, greased and the base lined with baking paper

I think it took about an hour and a half to make in total and was actually much simpler than it sounded. Just follow the steps below and you will have the perfect cake for a summer celebration.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the hot water). Stir frequently and when it has all started to melt remove the bowl from the heat and stir until smooth then stir in the butter.

3. Put the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until frothy.

4. Add the sugar and orange zest to the eggs and whisk on high speed until the mixture is very thick and mousse-like, and the whisk leaves a ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl. This takes about 4 minutes.

5. Give the chocolate and butter mixture a stir, then add to the egg mixture and stir briefly – it should be just combined.

6. Sift the flour into the egg mixture and gently fold in using a large metal spoon to incorporate lots of air.

7. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the sponges are light golden brown and springy to the touch.

8. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

9. Whilst they are cooling wipe the strawberries with kitchen paper and hull. Save one-third (the good-looking ones) for decoration and thinly slice the rest into a bowl.

10. Add the orange zest and juice and the sugar to the sliced strawberries and mix gently. Leave for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavours to develop.

11. Whip the cream until thick.

12. Now to assemble, set one sponge, browned top down, on a serving plate. Spoon the sliced strawberries and juice onto the sponge to cover evenly. Spread half the whipped cream on top. Set the second sponge, browned top up, on the cream. Carefully spread the rest of the cream over the top, then decorate with the reserved strawberries.

You can keep the cake chilled, in an airtight container, for up to 12 hours. Just remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before serving and decorate the top with gratings of white chocolate. As you can see from the photo I think I went a bit overboard with this!!

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