Fraisier cake

10 - 12

For the genoise sponge
150g caster sugar
4 eggs
75g ground almonds
75g cornflour
40g dairy free margarine, melted and cooled

For the pastry cream (crème pâtissière)
570 ml barista dairy-free milk
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
80g cornflour
20g gluten free custard powder
a few drops of vanilla extract

For the lemon syrup
75g/2¾oz caster sugar
2 lemons, juice only

To finish the cake
200g/7oz marzipan
50g/2oz dairy- and gluten-free dark chocolate, for decoration
50g/2oz dairy- and gluten-free white chocolate, for decoration
600g/1lb 5oz medium sized strawberries

For the genoise sponge
Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas mark 5.
Grease and line 2 x 20cm/ 8in cake tins.

Melt the dairy free margarine in the microwave on a low setting.

If you are using a food mixer – place the caster sugar and eggs into the machine bowl, fit the whisk attachment and whisk on a fast speed for 8 – 10 minutes. It is whisked enough when you lift up the whisk it leaves a trail on the top of the mixture for a second. This is called a sabayon.

If you are using a hand whisk or electric hand whisk – find a large saucepan and a large heatproof bowl that will sit on top.
Fill the saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to the boil. Take off the heat.
Place the caster sugar and eggs into the bowl and whisk together.
Place on top of the saucepan and whisk for 10 minutes until when you lift up the whisk it leaves a trail on top of the mixture.
Using the pan of hot water speeds up this process.

Sift together the gluten-free plain flour and gluten-free oat flour. Use a spoon to add the flour and melted, cooled dairy free margarine to the sabayon and fold in carefully. You want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible so try not to bang the bowl!

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until firm to touch.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wire.

For the pastry cream (crème pâtissière)
Pour the barista dairy-free milk into a large saucepan and place on the heat.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until white and creamy.

Stir the cornflour and custard powder into the egg.

When the plant-based milk has come to the boil whisk half the milk into the egg mixture then pour this back into the hot milk. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens then beat until smooth.
Cool and store in a fridge until needed.
The custard can be made thinner by whisking in more plant-based milk to the cold crème pâtissière until it is the required consistency.

Place the ingredients for the lemon syrup in a small saucepan with 70ml/4½ tbsp water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly for two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roll out a thin disc of marzipan to fit a 20cm/8in circumference circle. It is best if you cut around the 20cm/8in base of a loose bottomed tin for the perfect circle. For best results and a perfectly flat surface, chill it in the fridge until it is needed.

Place a strip of acetate plastic or a double strip of baking parchment around the inside of a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin or spring-form cake tin. Or line the base and sides with cling film or parchment lined foil.

Place one layer of sponge cake in the bottom of the cake tin. Then liberally brush the sponge with half the syrup. With the back of a spoon, gently squash the edges of the cake down so that they are pushed directly against the sides of the tin, creating the defined edges necessary for the Fraisier cake.

Rinse, hull and halve about 12 strawberries, try and make sure they are all the same height.
Place the cut sides of the strawberries against the plastic on the inside of the tin. The strawberry halves should be sitting snugly beside each other, so it looks like a little crown inside the tin.

Take the chilled pastry cream (crème pâtissière) out of the fridge and spoon two thirds of the crème into a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm/½in nozzle.
Pipe a swirl covering the exposed sponge completely in the bottom of the tin.
Then pipe between each of the strawberries so the gaps are filled right to the top with the pastry cream (crème pâtissière).

Set about 3-5 strawberries to one side for decoration, then hull and quarter the rest of them and place on top of the crème, so it raises the inside of the cake by about an inch.

Pipe another swirl of pastry cream (crème pâtissière) on top of the cut strawberries to cover the whole surface. Then smooth with a palette knife.

Place the other disc of sponge on top of this, with the cut side uppermost, so it has a completely flat top. Brush with the remaining syrup.

Gently press the top down quite firmly, so that the cake and filling push against the acetate to create the distinctive smooth and defined sides of the Fraisier cake.

Lay the chilled marzipan circle on top of the cake and put the whole thing back in the fridge to set.

Make some pretty decorations of your choice with melted chocolate – pipe or drizzle melted chocolate onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and leave to set.

When ready to serve, remove the cake from fridge.
Very carefully release the spring tin/loose bottom and remove the cake from the tin. Place onto a serving plate. Carefully remove the acetate or cling film from the side of the cake (use a small palette knife to hold against the side of the cake while you pull away the acetate).
Decorate with the reserved strawberries, chocolate decoration and a dusting of icing sugar. Serve chilled.

I made this cake for a blog post in 2012 when I made a gluten and dairy-free version of the technical challenge from The Great British Bake Off each week. This is based on a recipe by Mary Berry.