Today’s my birthday! And of course that means cake. Since my birthday’s in mid spring and in the midst of strawberry season, I’m celebrating with the most cheerful, spring-like birthday cake: this three-layered, lime and elderflower frosted strawberry cake. I started test baking it last week and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out: the sponge cakes pretty and pink, airy, moist and crumbly and lovely strawberry-flavoured, with the frosting as a fresh and delicately flavoured counterpart. The test version and the subsequent bakes went down a storm amongst my family, friends and the neighbouring children, so I think I can safely call this one a tried and tested success.
Like my sweetpea and vanilla mini cakes, this strawberry cake is made with yogurt-based layers of sponge cake, which makes it fresh and light. I’m happy to say that the colour and flavour of the sponge layers are both all natural. The strawberry flavour comes from freshly made strawberry purée. This also gives the batter a lovely pink colour, which doesn’t hold when baked, though. To achieve the pastel pink effect in the baked sponge I added fresh beetroot purée to the batter. Works like a charm, leaving its colour and a bit of sweetness, without any noticeable beetroot flavour in the baked result. Instead of beetroot purée you could also use beetroot powder for colour, pitaya powder, finely ground dried strawberries, or, of course, pink food colouring gel.
For the frosting I used whipped coconut cream, which is one of my go-tos, because it’s yummy, versatile and so easy to work with. As it’s naturally sweet, it hardly needs additional sweetener. You can flavour it to your liking to match it with your sponge base, like lemon and vanilla to go with the sweetpea mini cakes and lime and elderflower with this strawberry cake – because strawberries, limes and elderberry blossoms were just made for each other.
I hope you’ll love this one as much as we did.
Three-layered strawberry cake with lime and elderflower frosting – serves 10
for the 3 sponge cakes
- 300 g strawberry purée (see notes)
- 75 g beetroot purée (see notes) – optional
- 150 g coconut yogurt
- 225 g cane sugar
- 3 tbsp. lime juice
- 375 g all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- 90 ml rapeseed oil
for the frosting
- 4 400 ml tins of full-fat coconut milk, chilled for at least 1 hour
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 3 tbsp. elderflower cordial
- fresh flowers, fresh herbs and fresh strawberries, to decorate
- 3 ∅20cm cake tins for simultaneous baking. The amount of batter will make 3 ∅20cm sponges. If you only have the 1 tin, make 3 separate batches of batter by splitting the listed amounts and bake the sponges one after another.
Make sure the tins of coconut milk are in the fridge.
Heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Line the cake tin(s) with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, mix the coconut yogurt and the sugar. Add the strawberry purée, the beetroot purée (or other colouring agents, if using) and the lime juice and stir until smooth and bright pink.
In a second bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and baking soda. Stir the flour into the strawberry mixture. When combined, fold in the oil.
Divide the batter over the 3 tins (or fill the one tin if you’re baking separate batches). Level the top, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the center of the sponge is elastic to the touch and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
If you like, you can bake the sponges the day before you want to serve the cake. In this case, wrap the sponges in clingfilm after having cooled completely and leave the rest to the following day.
To make the frosting, scoop out the upper layer of thick white cream from the tins of coconut milk. You can freeze the remaining water for later use in soups or stews. Add the lime juice and elderflower cordial to the coconut cream and whip until thick and fluffy. The consistency of coconut cream may vary depending on the brand used; if the mixture stays too thin to spread, add a little corn starch to thicken; if it stays lumpy, add a little of the coconut water. Keep in the fridge until using.
To build the cake, put one of the sponge cakes on a serving plate. Spread with a layer of frosting, then top with the second sponge cake. Spread with a bit of frosting again, then put the third sponge on top, bottom side up for an even finish. Cover the whole cake with a layer of frosting, using a palette knife to smooth the surface. Top with the fresh strawberries, herbs and flowers, then serve.
- To make the strawberry purée, put 675 g fresh or frozen strawberries in a saucepan, along with 30 g sugar and a small splash of water to help them on their way. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are nicely stewed. With a slotted spoon, take the berries out of the pan and transfer to a small blender. Whizz until smooth and leave to cool. This will make approximately 300 g strawberry purée. The remaining cooking liquid is delicious drizzled over porridge or yogurt.
- To make the beetroot purée, peel and dice a small raw beetroot. Over a pan of boiling water, steam the beetroot cubes for about 15 minutes until tender. Whizz until smooth and leave to cool.