There should be a word to describe the way the soft texture of this cake matches the flavour of the vanilla, strawberries and almonds in it. But that word doesn’t exist, so the only way to know how incredibly good this cake tastes is to go into the kitchen and make it. If you come up with a word for it, drop us a line. For the best results, pull all the cake ingredients out of the fridge about an hour before you start. It will make your baked cakes fluffier and tastier.
115g / 4oz butter
125g / 4 1/2oz / generous 2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp cornflour or potato flour
175g / 6oz / 1 3/4 cups ground almonds
200g / 7oz / scant 1 cup ricotta
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
1 lemon zest
a pinch of salt
400g / 14oz / 4 cups strawberries
2 tbsp vanilla sugar (made from mixing sugar with the empty vanilla pod)
1. Heat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5. Line the cake tins with baking paper (we like to use a circle of baking paper pushed into each tin).
2. Use a large flat spoon or a mixer with a paddle attachment to cream the butter and the sugar together until fluffy and creamy. Slowly add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add the cornflour, ground almonds, ricotta, seeds from the vanilla pod, lemon zest and salt, and mix well to form a smooth batter.
3. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into the cake batter till well combined. Transfer the batter into your pre-lined tins – about 120g / 4 1/4 oz in each.
4. Remove the green stems from the strawberries and, depending on their size, cut into halves or quarters. Arrange them in a formation on top of each cake and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar. Place the tins on a tray in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes, then rotate the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes before serving.
5. These cakes can be served warm straight from the oven or kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. Bring back up to room temperature to serve.
Recipe excerpted from Honey & Co. At Home: Middle Eastern Recipes From Our Kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion New York, 2019. Photography © Patricia Niven.
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