Here is an easy strawberry cake recipe with a real wow factor.
Cuts into 10 slices
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 35-40 minutes
225g (8oz) soft margarine
225g (8oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 medium eggs
6 tablespoons limoncello liqueur
400g (14oz) strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
150ml (¼ pint) double cream
500g (1lb 2oz) carton luxury vanilla custard
2 tablespoons apricot glaze or apricot jam minus the pieces of fruit
250g (9oz) readymade marzipan
Little icing sugar
Few small strawberries
Few chocolate hearts
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan) Gas 3. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) heart shaped springform tin with a little oil then line the base with a piece of non-stick baking paper.
2. Add the margarine, sugar and flour to a large bowl, electric mixer or food processor. Add the baking powder, lemon rind and eggs and beat together until smooth.
3. Spoon into the lined tin, level the surface and bake for about 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of the cake.
4. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then loosen the edge, remove the tin and lining paper and cool on a wire rack.
5. When the cake is cold, cut into two thinner rounds, trimming the top level if it is a little domed, then spoon the limoncello over the cut sides. Wash the cake tin and line the base and sides with two strips of clingfilm. Put one of the cake halves in the tin and pull up the clingfilm if needed so that it slightly overhangs the top of the tin.
6. Sort through the strawberries, reserve the medium sized ones for the side of the cake and the larger ones for slicing. Cut the medium sized ones in half and arrange in a ring around the outside of the cake in the tin so that the cut edge is pressed against the clingfilm. Slice the rest and arrange as an even layer to cover the base cake.
7. Add the water to a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine powder and leave to soak for 5 minutes then stand the bowl in a saucepan of just simmering water and heat until the gelatine has dissolved and become a clear liquid.
8. Whisk the cream until it forms soft swirls in a bowl then fold in the custard. Gradually fold in the dissolved gelatine in a thin steady stream then pour the custard mix over the strawberries in the tin and chill for 10 minutes until just setting.
9. Add the second cake half to the tin and press lightly into the custard. Gently spread the apricot glaze or jam over the top of the cake. Knead and roll out the marzipan on a piece of non-stick baking paper then cut into a heart, using the cake tin as a guide. Lift over the top of the cake and press into place with fingertips dusted with icing sugar. Chill for at least 4 hours.
10. When ready to serve, unclip the sides of the tin, peel away the clingfilm, then carefully lift the cake off and transfer to a plate. Decorate the top with the small strawberries and piped chocolate hearts, if liked.
Not a fan of marzipan then simply leave it out and spread the top of the cake with melted chocolate or simply dust with sifted icing sugar instead.
To make chocolate hearts, melt 50g (2oz) dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of very gently simmering water. Spoon into a piping bag made of non-stick baking paper, snip off the tip then pipe heart shapes over a sheet of non-stick baking paper set on a baking tray. Chill until set then peel off the paper and add to the top of the cake when ready to serve.