Strawberries & Cream Sponge Cake
Light as air and fluffy as cotton, each bite of this heavenly cake is in perfect balance. And since this is actually a sponge cake, one can have it without too much guilt over the calories...lol.
If you don't have cake flour, you can make it by removing 1 and a half tbsp. of flour from the measured amount mentioned above and replacing it with 1 and a half tbsp. of corn flour/cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Sift the two together a couple of times to make sure all is well combined.
First prepare the syrup. Mix the sugar in hot water and then add the vanilla. Set this aside for later.
For the strawberries, select a few that you will place on top of the cake. Slice the rest into thin slices and put them into a bowl. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp. of sugar over the sliced strawberries and refrigerate. This is called 'maceration'. It helps make the strawberries nice, soft and juicy for the cake filling.
Prepare your cake pan by lining it with grease proof paper and greasing it to make sure the cake doesn't stick. I used an 8 inch pan. You can use a slightly smaller one if you want a higher cake.
Preheat your oven at 170 C.
Put the butter and milk into a small bowl and set aside.
Sift the flour
Put the eggs in a big glass bowl, then add the sugar. Beat the eggs for 30 seconds. Then dip the bowl in a pan of hot water and keep beating on high speed for 2 minutes. Make sure that the egg mixture doesn't get too warm, if you stick your finger in it, it shouldn't be too warm. Remove from the hot water and now put the small bowl of butter and milk into the hot water and leave it there for the butter to melt slowly.
The eggs will have started expanding from the beating. Keep beating for about 4 minutes until the egg mixture resembles cream. The beaters should leave streaks in the mixture as you whip, like how whipping cream looks at the 'soft peak' stage.
Once you have reached this consistency, remove the beaters and use a balloon whisk. Whisk the egg mixture for a few seconds.
Now sift all the flour into the egg mixture. Using a spatula, GENTLY fold the flour in using 30 strokes or less. If you over mix or fold too vigorously, you will lose all the air that has built up in the eggs, so be gentle.
Once the flour is mixed, take the bowl of butter and milk that you had kept in the hot water. It should have melted by now. Add it into the batter. Also add your vanilla essence. Now fold again no more than 50 times or less until the batter is well combined and shiny.
Pour into the prepared pan. Pick and drop the pan twice to remove any excess air bubbles. Then bake immediately. It should take about 23-25 minutes.
Check using a toothpick or skewer, it should come out clean to indicate the cake is ready. Again pick and drop the pan twice to prevent it from shrinking as it cools.
Now turn the pan over on a cake rack but do not remove the pan. Let the pan cool down until it is easy to handle with your hands without getting burnt.
Remove the pan, remove the greaseproof paper. Cut the cake in half, drizzle or brush the sugar syrup all over the cut halves, then add cream followed by the sliced macerated strawberries. Cover the strawberries with more cream, put the second half of the cake and cream that as well. Decorate with strawberries. Chill until the cream sets and enjoy your yummy cake! :)