Something about the beginning of a new month always gets me all excited. I find myself trapped in routine a lot so, to be able to turn the page to a new month is refreshing. March is looking like a pretty busy month so I'm looking forward to the chaos that I somehow seem to love so much. I know I'm going to regret this when I'm older.. But till then, let's keep baking!
Yet another recipe from the lovely Nigella Lawson. This is the wonderfully light Swedish Summer Cake from her cookbook Kitchen which has easily become a staple in our house. Why did I pick to bake this cake? It's a sponge cake with strawberries, whipped cream and vanilla flavored custard. How could I resist?
I barely use fresh vanilla beans since they're quite expensive. I had a few laying around in my pantry that I was meaning to use for a special recipe so I thought, why not use them for a big pop of flavor! And flavor it gave. I used one vanilla bean husk for the custard in this recipe.
Unfortunately, the first time I tried making this cake I didn't get enough batter. I guess the size of my pan was a lot wider than what was called for in the recipe. So all of the steps shown in this post are from what's originally called for in the recipe. I decided to bake it with a double dosage the next time and ended up with a three-layered cake! I was a happy red panda, yessir!
Sure, it was way shorter the first time but it tasted the same if not better. Simply loved this cake!
If you're not one for baking or maybe a little short on time, I'm taking orders! So please feel free to contact me at least 2 days in advance.
Swedish Summer Cake from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen
2 egg yolks
2 x 15ml tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour or potato flour
250ml full-fat milk
½ vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- If using the vanilla pod, put everything in a pot over a low to medium heat, stirring non-stop, until it starts to thicken. Do not let it boil. If using the vanilla extract, put everything in except the extract and proceed as above.
- When it starts to thicken - just over 3 minutes at medium heat, but just under 5 if you keep the flame cautiously low - take it off the heat. Remove the vanilla pod, if using.
- Transfer to a cold bowl, mix in the vanilla extract, if using, and continue stirring until it is a little cooler, then cover with clingfilm - touching the surface of the custard - to stop the custard getting a skin when it's cold. Or wet a piece of baking parchment and place that right on top of the custard.
250g caster sugar
90ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
1½ teaspoons baking powder
150g plain flour
butter, for greasing
1 x 23cm spring-form or other round cake tin
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together briskly until pale and moussy and more than double in volume, then, still whisking but slightly more gently, add the hot water.
- Mix the baking powder and flour in a separate bowl and gradually whisk these in, making sure there are no lumps. You may need to stop once or twice for a scrape-down.
- Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until it is golden, well-risen and a cake tester comes out clean.
- Let the cake stand in the tin on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before - carefully - unmoulding and leaving it to cool on the rack.
2-3 teaspoons caster sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
500ml double cream*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract*
*(If, like Red Panda, you prefer using the instant whipped cream sachets, skip these ingredients)
- Put 250g strawberries to one side, and start preparing the remaining 500g. Hull these, halve the smaller berries and quarter the larger ones, dropping them into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar - how much depends on how tart or sweet the berries - shake and leave until they glisten: 10 minutes will be just fine, though 1 hour would make them juicier and glossier.
- Whisk the double cream and vanilla extract until it holds its peaked shape when the beaters are lifted out.
- Fold a third of the whisked cream into the fully cooked vanilla custard you made earlier.
- When the cake, too, is thoroughly cool, take out a bread knife and, courageously, slice the cake horizontally into 3 layers.
- Put on cake layer on its serving platter or stand, and top with half the vanilla-custard-cream, then arrange half the macerating strawberries on top, concentrating more on the outer edges of the cake than the center. Top with the second layer of sponge and repeat as before with the rest of the custard-cream and cut berries.
- Now set the third cake layer on top and cover with the waiting whipped cream, arranging the 250g reserved strawberries as desired: I hull most of them, and cut some, but like to have a few whole, unhulled berries lying plumply and decoratively here and there.
Red Panda's note: The first time I made this, I use the same proportions for the custard, cream and cake as mentioned above. But to get 3 nicely baked layers, I doubled all the proportions which gave me plenty of batter and custard to work with.