It’s been a quite while since I have posted my last cake on my blog. Two months in fact! It’s not that I haven’t done any baking at all, but the day job got in the way, alas, and I mainly kept to baking quick cakes and my sourdough bread. Things are a bit quieter now and I am excited about all the summery fruit that is now available (in spite of the less than summery weather). Following the long winter months with a fairly restricted selection of fruit (at least for those like me using mainly seasonal and regional ingredients) a whole new world of recipes has now become possible. I love all sorts of berries and summer fruit and I am hoping to bake as many cakes with these fresh ingredients while they last. In Germany the Erdbeerkuchen – strawberry cake – is a great summer favourite. There are lots of variations on the strawberry cake, of course, but this recipe is fairly traditional. The base, in German, is called ‘Bisquit’ and it is made mainly of eggs and flour. Unlike other sponge batters this does not contain butter or any other fat and it is therefore particularly light and fluffy. The Bisquit base is very versatile – it can be used with all kinds of other fruit (in the 1980s cakes with colourful tinned fruit – peaches, pineapples and mandarins – were all the rage) and it is also the recipe used for the famous Black Forest Gateaux. For the latter, 25 g of the corn flour is exchanged with cocoa powder to make it dark and chocolaty.
I baked the Bisquit base in a round springform tin 28 cm in size. When baked the base is about 6-7 cm high so it can be cut in half with a sharp knife. This means that the recipe is enough for two cakes – I usually wrap one in tin foil and freeze it for another cake.
For the base:
200 g sugar
Seeds of one vanilla pod or some vanilla extract
100 g flour
125 g corn flour
For the cream base:
2 heaped tablespoons of corn flour
2 heaped tablespoons of sugar
500 ml milk
For the glaze (this keeps the strawberries on the cake and also keeps the fruit fresh for longer):
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
250 ml water or fruit juice
About three punnets of strawberries
Some sliced almonds to decorate
For the Bisquit base divide the egg whites from the yolks. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then slowly add the sugar. Continue whisking until creamy and shiny. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks one by one and combine well. Finally, mix the flour and corn flour and thoroughly fold into the egg mixture. Grease the bottom of a springform tin (do not grease the sides, because this makes the cake rise unevenly) and add the batter. Smooth the surface and bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool. Cut the base in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife (if the cake is very high and you prefer a thinner base you can also cut it into three rounds).
For the cream base mix the corn flour and sugar. Add some vanilla if you like. Pour about 100 ml of the milk into the flour and mix well – make sure there are no lumps. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil and then add the corn flour mix. Boil for about 2-3 minutes whisking continually. Leave to cool slightly (stirring every once in a while to prevent a skin from forming).
Evenly smooth the cream onto the Bisquit base. This should not be too thick – you can eat the rest as a dessert, mixed with any leftover strawberries. Now top the cake with the strawberries. You can use small strawberries whole and cut the larger ones in half.
Finally, prepare the glaze. Mix the corn flour and sugar with 250 ml cold water or juice and bring to the boil. Immediately pour this on the cake (starting in the middle) to cover the strawberries. This sets very quickly. Immediately decorate the edges of the cake with the sliced almonds.
The cream base can be replaced simply with whipped cream or clotted cream. If you do this I would not use the glaze (it would melt the cream) and I would eat the cake on the same day.