With heavenly layers of sponge, vanilla custard and strawberries, this is no ordinary vanilla cake. It's the perfect dessert for entertaining, not just because it looks and tastes stunning, but also because all the hard work is done well before the guests arrive.

Serves
6-8

Preparation

45min

Cooking

30min

Skill level

Mid
By
4
Average: 1.8 (9 votes)
Yum

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 5 eggs
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the custard:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 80 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped
  • 120 g cornflour
  • 400 g soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar

In addition:

  • 500 g strawberries
  • 1 tbsp strawberry liqueur
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 2 hours

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

For the sponge, separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and creamy. Put the beaten egg whites on top of the egg yolk mixture, sieve the flour and baking powder over and fold in carefully. Spread smoothly in a square baking tin (approx. 25x25 cm) lined with baking parchment and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, turn out of the tin and leave to cool. Then split horizontally.

Meanwhile, for the custard, put the milk into a pan with the vanilla pod and seeds, and half the sugar and bring to the boil. Beat the rest of the sugar with the eggs and egg yolks until pale and foamy. Then gradually stir in the cornflour and the milk (in a thin stream). Stir over a hot bain-marie until the custard thickens (take care that it does not get too hot!). Then remove from the heat, leave to cool (to the same temperature as the butter) and gradually mix in the butter (using an electric hand mixer for the best results).

Place a square cake ring (or springform pan sides) on a platter and line with clingfilm. Place one sponge square in the ring and sprinkle with liqueur. Wash and hull the strawberries and halve lengthwise. Stand around the edge of the sponge with their cut surfaces facing outwards and fill the middle of the cake with half of the custard. Arrange the rest of the strawberries on top and cover with the rest of the custard. Place the second sponge square on top and press lightly. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Dust with icing sugar, release from the cake ring and serve garnished with strawberries.