This is a perfect spring celebratory cake and the flag theme was easy to sort out and very fitting for the Diamond Jubilee. Do not feel daunted: this is dead simple and much quicker to put together than it looks- Remember, I feel the same : life is too short to cook complicated… But I like the applause so keep it quiet…
Vanilla shortbread and berries layered cake
Ingredients for the shortbread circles :
- Salted butter 500g (best quality! Expensive will do)
- Caster sugar 200g
- Vanilla pod
- Light flour (type 00) 500g
-I like using a mix of Spelt and wheat flour but ordinary cake flour will do too.
Slice the vanilla pod in two and scrape the inside on one half with a blunt knife. Mix all the ingredients in a mixer until they form a ball. Roll it and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for ½ hour.
Preheat the over to 170.
Divide the dough in three equal parts. Using a rolling pin, prepare each circle on a piece of greaseproof paper and cut them out with the help of a template such as a cake tin or a round tin base. They should be roughly of the same thickness and size. Roll them down to half a centimetre thickness so they hold their shape but are not too heavy when baked.
Put each circle on a different rack in the oven, trying to get the racks to fit in the lower half of the oven. I then select the fan or « rotisserie » icon so the air circulates around the rack and they cook evenly.
Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness. They should hardly colour or only around the edges. If you cook the dough too long, it will be brittle and difficult to work with. The circles are still soft when they come out and will harden as they cool. Reserve on a rack to cool down while your prepare the filling.
Ingredients for the filling :
- Whipping cream 500ml
- Caster sugar 100g
- 2 Punnet of strawberries, one of bluberries and one of raspberries
- Marzipan decorations
Whisk the cream with the sugar until it makes soft peaks. Reserve.
Rinse and cut the tail off the berries. Cut the strawberries in half.
Transfer carefully the first disk onto your chosen stand.
Spread some cream over the disk. Not too much so it does not get too soggy !
Make a first row of strawberries on the outside of the circle. Dispose the other berries randomly inside. Do the same process for the second circle. Stuff more strawberries around the sides if you can see gaps. Use up the raspberries for the inside of the cake.
For the top, the process is a little more design orientated:
Spread a generous layer of cream and start by making a large central cross with the strawberries, then arrange the blueberries into four corners to suggest the British flag.
Decorate with a crown made with marzipan- or not ! For mine, I used a silicone mould and painted the crown with a bit of gold and red food colouring from Kitchen Squires.
We shared this for a neighbour’s Jubilee street party with a glass of Pimm’s, in a house decked out with more flags than the Britannia ! I am French and a republican and but I am all for a party and a cook off if there is one going on : Any excuse will do to bake and share, eat cake and raise a toast. God save THEIR queen.