I love tennis. Or more accurately, I love the time of Wimbledon Championships. You get glimpses of Ye Olde England – the near-mythical age of fogs and mists, men walking around in top hats and ladies nibbling on crustless cucumber sandwiches.
I must admit that, other than a few glorious heatwave-friendly salads (the one with miniature baby potatoes, fresh peas, mozzarella, wild rocket, toasted pine nuts and extravagant quantities of silky green asparagus was particularly delicious), I haven’t done much cooking since the Championships began. I have either travelled down to London to visit Wimbledon, or have been glued to my TV watching Wimbledon, or have been sitting in my garden with strawberries and Pimms imagining myself to be at Wimbledon.
Except for this cake. I wanted to concoct a strawberry and cream cake that could be enjoyed not only during Wimbledon, but on all special summer occasions – of which there are plenty. Since there’s enough cream in the filling, I didn’t put any butter in the cake (only small quantities needed for greasing the cake tin). Happily, it works. The semolina gives the cake a slightly crunchy, dense texture.
I used strawberry jam that I had made last month from tiny little strawberries that grow in my garden. I was going to post the recipe, but given that some food bloggers are sharing recipes for exotic and imaginative jams and marmalades, my own humble effort felt a little, well, humble.
Serve the cake with crustless white cucumber or watercress sandwiches, plump scones, a pot of tea, and a glass of champagne or Pimms for the taste of England in summertime. Makes one 8-inch cake.
For the cake:
Unsalted butter, softened, for greasing
3 eggs, separated
4 oz/ 100g caster (powdered) sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
3 oz/ 75g semolina
For the filling:
8 oz/ 200g strawberry jam or coulis
A few fresh strawberries, finely sliced (optional)
5 fl oz/ 150 ml clotted or whipping cream, lightly whipped
Icing (superfine) sugar
Fresh strawberries, sliced or left whole (optional)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4. Grease a deep, round 8-inch (20 cm) cake tin and line it with buttered greaseproof paper (butter side up).
2. Place the egg yolks, sugar, grated orange zest and juice and the semolina into a bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry, then gently fold them into the orange and semolina mixture. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes until well-risen and pale golden brown. The top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
5. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Meanwhile, heat the strawberry jam or coulis on gentle heat until it is runny. (I’m suggesting 200g, but adjust the quantity – half a jar, whole jar – to suit your own taste). Let it cool a little at the same time the cake is cooling.
7. To fill, carefully split the cake in half horizontally and fill with the strawberry jam, the clotted or whipped cream and, if using, a few sliced strawberries.
8. Just before serving, sift some icing sugar over the top and, if desired, decorate with fresh strawberries. Enjoy the cake a little warm or at room temperature – but it must be eaten on the same day as it won’t keep.