Another recipe from Julia Taylor, this is a wonderful cake to serve at a dinner party. It's got an air of being that little bit more special than a bog standard sponge cake. The sponge itself is light and velvety and it's a subtly elegant offering. It would work great as mentioned for a dinner party dessert or equally for afternoon tea. Do follow the recipe in the order its listed and get your tin and strawberries ready first ~ this is vital for the cake's success and makes your life a whole lot easier when dealing with sticky caramels.
250g punnet of strawberries, hulled + halved
100g caster sugar
150ml fruity Riesling
10 juniper berries
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
60ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest 1 lemon, juice of half.
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Extra strawberries for serving (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 170˚C/338˚F.
Grease and line a 22 cm cake tin, allowing a little paper to sit above the top like a collar. Hull strawberries and slice in half length-ways, set aside. This stage is vital to do now, if not you'll find the cake topping tricky to prepare
Place Riesling and juniper berries in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer for3-4 minutes. Strain the juniper berries out and discard. Keep wine hot.
For the caramel; place the caster sugar in a clean, dry frypan. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar starts to melt at the edges and becomes clear. Using a heat-resistant spatula, carefully draw the edges of the melting sugar into the middle. Continue to stir occasionally until the caramel is golden brown. A little at a time, pour the hot Riesling into the caramel, stirring with the spatula. It will bubble ~ keep stirring and adding the wine. At the end there will be a thick, amber syrup. Pour this immediately into the bottom of the lined cake tin. Arrange the halved strawberries on top of the syrup, cut-side down, and make the cake batter.
In a free-standing mixer, whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar until thick and pale., about 5-6 minutes. Pour the oil / verjuice / lemon zest, juice and vanilla bean extract into a jug, add slowly down the side of the bowl with the whisk running; continue to whisk for 1 – 2 minutes. Set aside, sift flour and baking powder over the top and gently fold in with a spatula.
In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy and add remaining sugar in small batches. Whip until you have a firm and glossy meringue. Fold 1/3 of meringue into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, and then gently fold in the rest of the meringue. Pour into cake tin above caramel and strawberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Leave to rest on the bench for 5-10 minutes (it may sink a little at this stage, don't worry) and invert onto a cake stand or plate. Serve warm with double cream and extra strawberries on top (optional).