This beautiful cake for strawberry lovers is made using a standard creaming method, where butter and sugar are beaten together until light and creamy before adding eggs and flour. The addition of ground almonds and fresh strawberries gives the cake a rich nutty flavour and intense fruitiness, which is tempered by the creamy icing. Both the cake and the icing may be made a day ahead (keep the icing refrigerated), then assembled on the day of serving. For a delicious autumnal variant, swap the strawberries for plums and change the lemon zest to orange.
For the cake
self-raising flour 120g
salt ¼ tsp
ground almonds 140g
unsalted butter 250g, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
caster sugar 250g
lemon 1 large, zested
eggs 4 large, at room temperature
vanilla essence 2 tsp
strawberries 200g, hulled, halved and thinly sliced
For the icing and topping
cream cheese 300g
icing sugar 150g, sifted
double cream 125ml
vanilla ¼ tsp
strawberries 18-20, halved
Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin (either square or round, preferably with a removable base) with baking paper.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the ground almonds. Set aside for the time being.
Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a cake mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled at this stage, it will come together again later. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, then the sifted dry ingredients in three batches. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula to make sure the batter is evenly mixed, then gently fold in the sliced strawberries.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, levelling the top with a small metal spatula to ensure it is smooth and even. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool before taking it out of the tin.
To make the icing, place the cream cheese into the bowl of a cake mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth – about a minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the icing sugar, cream and vanilla. Mix just until combined, then increase the speed and continue to beat until soft waves form.
Transfer the cooled cake onto a serving plate, then spread the icing on top, levelling it out with a small spatula. Place the strawberries on top, pressing just lightly to embed them into the icing. Any leftovers will keep, refrigerated, for up to two days.