Guest chef

Debbie Major

Cook, writer and food stylist, Debbie's reputation for foolproof, delicious recipes is second to none. She is renowned for her dedication to seasonal home cooking and her love of all things rustic and authentic. Simplicity over cheffy is her motto!

Strawberry and elderflower cake

  • Serves 16
  • Prep 1 hr 20 mins
  • Total time 1 hr 40 mins
3.5/5 rating (21 votes)
Strawberry and elderflower cake
Strawberry and elderflower cake

step by step

  • 1Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease and base-line three 20cm sandwich tins. Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt; set aside.
  • 2Beat the butter in a bowl until soft and creamy. Add the 225g sugar and beat until very pale (this should take about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, adding a small spoonful of flour with the second, third and last egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Sift over the rest of the flour and gently but thoroughly fold in.
  • 3Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins and lightly level out. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
  • 4Leave to cool in the tins for 1 minute, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack, drizzle each one with a tablespoon of elderflower cordial and leave to cool.
  • 5For the strawberry and elderflower filling, whip the cream and elderflower cordial into soft peaks, then add half the icing sugar and continue to whip into firm peaks. In another large bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth and fluffy, then whisk in the rest of the icing sugar. Mix in the whipped cream, then fold in the prepared strawberries.
  • 6For the meringue buttercream, put the sugar and egg whites into a large heatproof mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently by hand for 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm – it should look like runny cake icing. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should reach 60°C. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or another cold, clean bowl) and whisk on a high speed for 5-6 minutes or until it forms stiff, glossy peaks and the mixture has cooled. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, one small piece at a time – making sure each has been incorporated before adding the next. When it has all been added and the mixture is smooth, add the elderflower cordial and food colouring. Chill the buttercream for 20 minutes to allow it to firm up to a spreadable consistency.
  • 7To assemble, put one layer, bottom-side up, on a plate or cake stand and spread with half the filling. Top with another sponge layer, filling, and then the final sponge.
  • 8Spread the sides and top of the cake with an even layer of the meringue buttercream. Pile the sliced strawberries on top, then scatter over some sprinkles. Add candles, if you like.
  • Warning: this recipe contains partially cooked eggs.

    Recipe photograph by Kris Kirkham. 

Get ahead

Bake the sponges up to a day ahead, cool and store in an airtight container; they can also be frozen. The cake can be assembled up to 2 hours ahead; top with strawberries just before serving.

You will need

  • 225g slightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 225g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra for the top
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the strawberry and elderflower filling

  • 1 x 150ml carton double cream
  • 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 175g strawberries, hulled and sliced

For the meringue buttercream

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 medium egg whites
  • 250g slightly salted butter, at room temperature but not too soft, cubed
  • 1 tsp elderflower cordial
  • 1 x 10g tube Dr Oetker hot pink gel food colour

To decorate

  • 150g strawberries, sliced
  • pink and white sugar pearls from a 90g pot of Princess Sprinkles (find them in the cake decorating aisle)

+ Nutritional Information