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
400g ripe strawberries
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slice the strawberries carefully and set aside enough of the most perfect slices to cover the top of the cake in a single layer.
- 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.