Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Icing


Serves 12-15

For the cake
Oil, to grease
4 large eggs, at room temperature
180g unsalted butter, softened
350g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2–4 tbsp milk
285g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the puree
450g ripe strawberries
3 tsp caster sugar

For the icing
200g butter, softened
225g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

To assemble
400g ripe strawberries


  1. For the purée, roughly chop the strawberries, add to a bowl with the sugar, toss to coat and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, until the strawberries release most of their juices.
  2. Blend the soaked strawberries with their juice in a food processor, in short pulses until they become a smooth purée; set aside. This purée will be used for both the cake and the icing.
  3. For the icing, put the butter in a bowl and, using an electric whisk, mix until light, pale and fluffy, then add the cream cheese and mix until well combined. Sift in the icing sugar, a little at a time, on the slowest speed. Once incorporated, stir in the lemon juice and 60–90ml strawberry purée (enough to give a good flavour but ensuring the icing will be firm enough once chilled to be spreadable). Firm up in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  4. Heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Oil the 2 cake tins and line the base of each with a disc of greaseproof paper, then lightly oil the paper again.
  5. For the cake, separate the eggs. Using an electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, 2 tbsp milk and the remaining strawberry purée (about 180ml). Combine well.
  6. Sift the dry ingredients over the surface of the creamed mixture and fold in, using a large metal spoon or a spatula, until fully combined. Add up to 2 more tbsp of the milk, if needed, to give a dropping consistency.
  7. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peak, using an electric whisk. Gently fold them into the cake mixture until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  8. Divide the cake mixture evenly between the 2 tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 35–45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, remove the lining paper and leave to cool completely.
  9. Slice the strawberries carefully and set aside enough of the most perfect slices to cover the top of the cake in a single layer.
  10. To assemble the cake, spread a quarter of the icing over the bottom cooled cake and top with a layer of strawberry slices, then sandwich the 2 cakes together. Spread the remaining icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake and decorate the top of the cake with the reserved strawberry slices.

*If possible, macerate the strawberries for the fresh purée a day ahead to allow time for them to release their juices.