The buttercream is almost like a strawberry mousse in texture and taste, it smelt incredible.
10 generous slices
- 225g unsalted butter softened
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
- 225g self raising flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- 120g egg whites (about 4 medium eggs)
- 240 caster sugar
- 360 unsalted butter at room temp
- 150g fresh strawberries, pureed
- 3 tbsp strawberry conserve or jam
- 100g dark chocolate 50% cocoa
- 100g double cream
- 150g fresh strawberries to decorate
- 3 x 6 inch cake tins greased and lined with baking paper
- Pre-heat oven to 175 ℃
- Place the butter, vanilla paste and caster sugar in a mixer bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. With the mixer still running add the egg a little at a time, allow each addition to incorporate fully before adding the next bit. If it starts to curdle add a little of the flour to bring it back. Once all the egg has been added slowly fold in the flour until just combined. Weigh the mixture out between the three cake tins so they are all the same size. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes – when it's cooked it should spring back when you touch the surface of the cake and be shrinking away from the sides slightly. If you aren’t sure inset a wooden skewer and it should come out clean. Leave to cool on a wire wrack.
- While your cake is baking make your sugar syrup. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer until all the sugar has dissolved. While your cake is still warm brush with the sugar syrup and leave the cakes to cool completely. Store the rest of the sugar syrup untill needed. I usually bake my cakes a day ahead so they are easier to layer up without breaking. I'd wrap them up with cling film until needed.
- To make the buttercream place the egg whites in a clean, grease free mixing bowl. I use the bowl from my freestanding mixer to make things easier. Add the sugar to the egg whites and place over a saucepan of simmering water, make sure the mixing bowl isn’t touching the water. Whisk the egg whites and cater sugar over the heat until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature of the mixture reaches 65 ℃. Place the bowl back on the freestanding mixer making sure the whisk is already attached and whisk on a high speed until you have a glossy meringue. The meringue should have cooled down at this point so add the butter a piece at a time still whisking at a high speed. Once all the butter has been added you should have a lovely rich buttercream. Next puree the strawberries and add this puree to your buttercream, it is better if your puree is at room temperature, try bringing the strawberries out of the fridge a while before you use them. Whisk the puree and buttercream together on a high speed, it does take a while to all come together. Once it does it should be almost a mousse like texture.
- To assemble the cake, unwrap your sponges, slice the top off each one to make them level, I use a wire cake leveller. Brush each layer with more of your sugar syrup. Place the first cake cut side up on a cake board or plate. Generously cover with the strawberry buttercream, place the next cake layer on top, again cut side up. This time spread a thin layer of buttercream and pipe a dam of buttercream around the edge of the cake to hold the jam within the cake layers. Spread over your strawberry jam and place the next cake on top of that but this time cut side down. Next I cover the whole cake in a thin layer of buttercream to crumb coat and put it in the fridge to chill and firm up for about half an hour – you want your cake to be firm to touch by the time it's chilled. Now you are ready to do your final neat layer of buttercream. I like to use a turntable and an offset spatular to get a good finish. Put a pile of buttercream on top of your cake and start smoothing it out as you rotate it. Tease the buttercream down the sides of the cake, you can always add more buttercream if you need to fill any gaps. I just keep filling and smoothing until I’m happy, thats what I love about buttercream covered cakes – you can keep adding and smoothing as much as you want. It does take a bit of practise to get it super smooth but I find it quite a therapeutic process. Once you are happy with the finish put the cake back in the fridge while you make your ganache.
- To make the ganache finely chop your chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl, heat you cream in a saucepan until it's hot but not boiling. Poor the hot cream over the chocolate and leave it so sit for a couple of minutes, gently stir it together until you have a smooth shiny ganache.
- Take your chilled cake from the fridge and poor the ganache on the top, you might have to tease the ganache over the edge a little bit just to get the drip effect. Place your strawberries in a pile on top of the soft ganache and your done.
Cake is best served at room temperature but I do store it in the fridge because of the fresh strawberry buttercream, just bring back up to temperature to enjoy at it's best. The cake is always best enjoyed on the day but will keep up to 3 days if covered and chilled.