Chocolate and strawberry cake
- June 2015
- Sunflower oil for greasing, plus an extra splash
- 220g caster sugar
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 5 medium free-range eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 250g self-raising flour
- 20-24 strawberries, half whole, half hulled (see tip) and sliced
For the frosting
- 394g tin Carnation caramel
- 200g good quality milk chocolate (around 34 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- 150g dark chocolate (around 70 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ gas 4. Lightly grease 2 x 20cm cake tins with oil and line the bases with baking paper. Put the caster sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla with a pinch of salt. Fold in the flour gently (use a metal spoon or balloon whisk) until smooth, then divide evenly between the tins. Level the tops, then bake for 30 minutes or until risen and golden, and a skewer pushed into the middle of each comes out clean. Remove the tins from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely (see Make Ahead).
- While the cakes are baking, make the frosting. Put the caramel, milk chocolate and 100g of the dark chocolate into a bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of very gently simmering water. Melt slowly, stirring every now and then, until combined and smooth. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film directly touching the surface, then set aside to cool and firm up.
- Lay the sliced strawberries, cut-side down, in a single layer on a double layer of kitchen paper. Top with another double layer, then press down very gently so the kitchen paper absorbs most of the juices. Leave like this until ready to use.
- Melt the remaining 50g chocolate in the microwave on medium power for 30-40 seconds, or use the same method as in step 3. Lay a sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet or chopping board, then carefully dip the end of each whole strawberry into the chocolate, coating the lower half. Lay them on the baking sheet and leave to cool and harden.
- To assemble the cake, put one cooled sponge, top-down, onto a cake stand and spread with half the frosting. Scatter the sliced strawberries over. Cover with the remaining cooled sponge, top-side up, then spread with the remaining frosting and arrange the chocolate- dipped strawberries on top. The strawberries’ juice will run into the icing a little, but this increases the wondrousness! Slice and serve immediately.
To hull a strawberry, cut out the green leaves and stem at the top.
Make the sponges up to a month in advance and freeze, well wrapped in cling film. Defrost to use. Or keep the unfilled sponges somewhere cool, well wrapped, for up to 6 hours. Fill just before serving.
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