This cake kind of came about by accident- the result of having a free couple of hours last Sunday afternoon, a pack of fresh British strawberries, and a block of pre-softened just calling out to be used. I’ve made it twice since- refining the recipe and trying it out in various tins and maybe also because it was so tasty I didn’t really need a reason. The recipe is based upon that old classic 4:4:4 (4oz flour, sugar, butter + 2 eggs + 1tsp leavener) ratio, and so with the Recipe That Launched A Thousand Victoria Sponges behind me it felt not too scary to have a little tweak and tinker, in the hope of creating something altogether more pudding-y and moist (sorry, moist-haters). The yoghurt is what does it. Three heaping tablespoons added in with the eggs and a splash of vanilla makes the crumb (Yep I’m talking about ‘crumb’, SO GBBO) more tender and a little denser than your average vanilla sponge, and the strawberries perfume the whole cake with this incredible hint-of-strawberry flavour.
Oh, and I should tell you too that this cake will come together, bake, and be out on the side cooling in less than an hour. 15 minutes to throw ingredients in a bowl and mix, 25 odd minutes in the oven, pour over the glaze, and allow to cool. Easy as pie. Or strawberry cake.
So, here’s how to make this baby! I recommend baking it in a standard square cake/brownie tin, since it’s the sort of cake that tastes best when cut into little slabs and eaten footloose and plate-free in the garden on a sunny weekend afternoon, or standing in the kitchen post-dog walk at eleven o’clock in the morning. It also tastes best when served alongside a cup of English Breakfast tea, or perhaps a strong cafe latte. Oh, and it’ll keep in an airtight container for about 3 days…if it lasts that long.
6oz/170g softened unsalted butter
6oz/170g caster sugar
6oz/170g plain flour
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
3 tbsp plain natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g hulled and quartered British strawberries
Approx. 150g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and butter and line a square cake tin. I lined the base only, and found that greasing the sides was sufficient in helping the cake now to stick.
- Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk together the eggs, natural yoghurt and vanilla extract in a jug, and sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl.
- Add half the egg mixture to the butter and sugar then beat to combine, and then add in half the flour and beat again. Repeat until all the ingredients are combined, and beat until the batter is smooth and light. Don’t beat for more than a minute or two, so as not to overwork the mix.
- Stir in the quartered strawberries by hand, then pour the batter into the greased and lined cake tin. Smooth over with a palette knife, and then place in the centre of the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took exactly 22 minutes, last time round)
- Whilst the cake is baking, squeeze the juice of a lemon into a bowl and stir in sifted icing sugar until the glaze reaches the consistency of double cream. Use a cocktail stick/skewer/dry strand of spaghetti to poke holes in the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, and immediately pour over the glaze. Allow to cool for 20 minutes or so before removing from the tin.
- If you’d like feel free to add a second layer of glaze (using the juice of a second lemon and more icing sugar) if you prefer a sweeter finish. Just don’t make the mistake of dusting it with icing sugar! It ruins the beautiful crackly glaze on your cake and all the photos you’re trying to take of it quicker than you can imagine, and you’ll wind up sitting on your living room floor with a sieve in one hand and a sticky camera in the other, and a hopelessly tragic expression on your face. Or something like that, anyway…