Swedish Midsommar! Blue skies, flower crowns, white dresses, smorgasboards and strawberries! Doesn’t that sound gorgeous? Especially when those strawberries are part of this light, luscious cake!
It’s simple, and utterly perfect. Two light layers of a simple sponge cake, slathered in sweetened whipped cream and filled and topped with juicy, bursting, redder than red strawberries.
What’s great about this cake is that it’s such a crowd-pleaser. I mean, there’s a reason that every Swede knows this Midsommar classic! I have a theory that this amount of whipped cream could make pretty much anything into a celebration – but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is that the flutteringly light cake, with that kiss of lush cream and those juicy, juicy berries is transcendent. It tastes of pure, simple summertime and happiness. Close your eyes and you can see a meadow full of wildflowers and butterflies and lazy clouds and beams of sunlight, can’t you? I can.
The cakes come together in a stand mixer with ease – first, whisk four egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks, and then scrape them into another bowl. Then, whisk the yolks with some sugar, vanilla and a splash of water until they’re pale and voluminous.
Fold through the egg whites, then some flour, and then divide between two tins and bake until they’re golden brown. So far, so simple.
Take about a pound (500g) strawberries, and slice them up, saving the very cutest ones for the top of the cake. Toss the sliced berries with a few spoonfuls of sugar and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, if you have it (rosewater is lovely too).
The cream needs to be whipped juuuuust to stiff peaks. If you go too far, you’ll get butter, which you don’t want. So watch that cream like a hawk, and don’t forget to add a little sugar, and a splash of vanilla too.
Assembling this cake is the most fun! Because it’s whipped cream, and it’s big and blowsy and there are strawberries everywhere! Word to the wise, if your berries have given off a lot of juice, try to strain it away before you pile them on, otherwise you may have a very messy cake. Also, you should definitely slurp those juices up with a spoon, because they’re SO DELICIOUS. Like some sort of pixie elixir.
The whipped cream is never going to be that smooth, unless you’re some sort of cake-wizard which I am not. Anyway, the point of this cake is that it’s homey. It wants to look organic and ramshackle.
It’s like a beautiful old farm building. In fact, this cake would look absolutely gorgeous just dotted with some edible flowers if you happen to have any.
Once you’ve had the time of your life stacking and filling and decorating this cake, the only thing left to do is eat it! A big, healthy-sized slice for each person (and I mean healthy-sized as in large, not as in weight-watchers) is the ticket, and a glass of sparkling rosé alongside would be suitably celebratory. OH – and if you happen to have any sweet strawberry juice leftover, add it to your glass.
So cheers! Here’s to big cakes, and celebration and starting the week off right! Hope you have a great one.
- 4 eggs, separated
- pinch of salt
- ¾ cup (180g) sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or natural extract
- 1 tbsp water
- ¾ cup (115g) plain flour
- 1 pound (500g) strawberries
- 1 tbsp powdered (icing) sugar
- 1½ cups (375ml) double (heavy) cream
- 2 tbsp powdered (icing) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or natural extract
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line two 7inch/18cm tins with baking paper. Do not grease them.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and the salt to stiff peaks. Scrape into a separate bowl and set aside.
- In the mixer bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and water and beat with the whisk attachment until very pale and at least doubled in volume.
- Fold through the egg whites, and then the flour, being careful not to lose too much air. Divide the batter between the two tins, and then bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and springing back when touched. Turn the tins upside down on a cake rack, and leave until completely cooled.
- Pick out the best, cutest strawberries and set them aside to decorate the top of the cake. Wash and hull the remaining berries and slice them into quarters. Place them in a bowl and toss with the sugar, then set aside.
- Whisk together the cream, sugar and vanilla until they are JUST at stiff peaks - be very careful not to over-whip.
- To assemble the cake, run a thin knife around the cakes in their tins, and then remove them.
- Place one cake on a serving plate, and then top with about a third of the cream. Spread it to the edges, and then top with almost all of the strawberries, leaving any juice they have created behind (add it to champagne for a cocktail - delish).
- Place the second cake on top and firmly, but gently press it down to anchor it.
- Pile the remaining cream onto the cake, and smooth it all over and down the sides, using a palette knife.
- Pile the remaining filling on top of the cake in the centre, and then decorate the edge with whole berries.