Strawberries are synonymous with British summertime—decorating prosecco, punching up Pimms, enjoyed courtside (drizzled with cream), sandwiched between the layers of a classic Victoria sponge, we could go on.
- Sarah Lemanski, Noisette Bakehouse
I like to call this the ‘Heaven Scent’ Almond & Strawberry Cake. The name says it all—it’s a real crowd pleaser, and when it’s baking there’s no other smell like it. If you’re feeling adventurous I’ve added a couple of side notes to the ingredients—add either pink peppercorn or rose water to the cake. Neither are necessary but both variations work brilliantly.
Dietary requirements are no problem too. This strawberry cake recipe is naturally gluten free and can be made without dairy too. Perfection!
Here, Sarah shows us how it’s done. Baking essentials at the ready…
What you’ll need:
For the cake batter
- 100g caster sugar
- 80g soft light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground mahleb spice or vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 210g ground almonds
- 25g buckwheat flour
- 25g brown rice flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 6 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 150g unsalted butter (melted)
For the topping
- 250g strawberries
- 50g flaked almonds
- 20g caster sugar
How it’s made:
- Pre-heat the oven to 165°C/330°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 21cm spring form cake tin.
- In a large mixing bowl measure out the caster sugar, soft light brown sugar, baking powder, mahleb, ground almonds, buckwheat and brown rice flour. Stir to combine.
- Separate the eggs. Add 4 yolks to the dry ingredients and place the 6 whites in another large, spotlessly clean bowl, along with the 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
- Add the melted butter to the dry mix and yolks and stir to combine. The mix will seem quite dry but should come together.
- Whisk the egg whites with an electric hand whisk until they form stiff peaks. Ensuring the bowl is spotlessly clean is an important step in helping the egg whites to whip up to maximum volume, trapping as much air as possible.
- Once the whites are whisked to maximum volume take a spoonful and fold into the flour mixture, it will be quite stiff to begin with. Add the remaining egg whites a third at a time, carefully folding them in evenly before adding anymore. This is to preserve as much air in the mixture as possible.
- Place the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
- Halve the strawberries and arrange on top of the cake. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds, followed by the caster sugar.
- Take a sheet of foil, large enough to wrap around the circumference of the tin, fold in half width ways and wrap around the tin to protect it during the baking process.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, after which time cover the top of the cake with foil. This will help to protect the tender fruit on top of the cake from burning. Continue to bake the cake for a further 35 minutes.
- Test with a skewer to ensure it is completely baked—it may need an additional 15 minutes. The flaked almonds will be lightly toasted and the strawberries jammy. It will still be a little soft under the strawberry layer due to the moisture from the fruit.
- Remove from the oven and discard the foil. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack for at least 3-4 hours before removing the sides and base of the tin to serve the cake.
Tips from the chef: “This cake does require a little patience, but you will be rewarded, I promise. Ensure you carefully swaddle the cake (as described in the method) in preparation for its bake to protect the fruit from burning. Operate with restraint once it is baked, allowing it to cool completely before removing from the tin.
This cake can be made with super ripe berries when the season allows, but is tasty at any time of year with the use of frozen berries, making for an almost jammy like top—a perfect contrast to the toasted almond flakes.”