With baking fever about to grip the nation, original Bake Off winner turned food writer Edd Kimber shares his recipe for a winning berry-topped celebration cake
“This cake combines seasonal berries with a lemon and elderflower sponge: a nod to the cake served at the royal wedding”
It’s a bit of a clichéd food writer story, but I really did learn to bake with my mum. I remember standing on a stool in our kitchen, helping her make scones or mince pies.
“After I left university, I wanted to make baking my career, which is why I entered The Great British Bake Off. You have to remember that, in the context of the first season, there were no guarantees of success with things like book deals or TV shows.
“I didn’t expect my life to follow the path it has, but as soon as the show ended, I decided to give myself 12 months to pursue baking. Thankfully, it’s now been eight years, and I’ve written three cookbooks and teach baking around the world – I’m very lucky.
“I think that, as a nation, we’re still obsessed with baking because we have a really sweet tooth. Whether you’re making a batch of cookies for yourself, or a cake for a friend’s birthday, there’s pleasure in the process and the result.
“You can’t talk about British summer baking without talking about strawberries, so they were my inspiration for this cake. I opted for the Jubilee variety for this recipe – they have a flavour I wish all strawberries had, with a wonderful sweetness. To celebrate the end of summer, this cake is piled high with berries atop a sponge infused with a lemon and elderflower syrup – irresistible.”
“This lemon and elderflower sponge cake topped with fresh berries serves 14 to 16, so it’s perfect for parties”
For the compote
120g mixed berries
2 tbsp lemon juice
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
For the cake
325g plain flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, lightly beaten
175ml whole milk
For the lemon and elderflower syrup
75ml elderflower cordial
25ml lemon juice
50g caster sugar
For the strawberry buttercream
3 large egg whites
240g caster sugar
360g unsalted butter, diced
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g strawberries, puréed and sieved
140g full-fat cream cheese
300g mixed berries, to decorate
To make the compote, purée the berries in a food processor, then sieve. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and mix. In a bowl, mix lemon juice and cornflour, add to the fruit and cook over a medium heat until the mixture is simmering, then cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Set aside in a bowl in the fridge, covered with clingfilm.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and lightly grease three 20cm round cake tins, lining the base with parchment paper.
Mix all the dry ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites a little at a time, beating until combined. Add the dry goods in three additions, alternating with the milk.
Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Place the syrup ingredients in a small pan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
To make the buttercream, place the egg whites and sugar into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk gently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk with an electric mixer for 7-10 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Whisking continuously, add the butter a piece at a time. Mix in the purée and vanilla paste. Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth, then add the buttercream to the cheese a spoonful at a time, mixing gently.
To assemble the cake, brush one layer with a third of the syrup. Spread over a little of the buttercream and top with half of the compote. Repeat with the second cake layer. Place the final layer on top and brush with remaining syrup. Top the cake with the remaining buttercream and spread over the sides. Decorate with berries.