This is pretty much a Victoria sponge as the starting point, but has the addition of a little polenta flour and ground almonds. Don’t be fooled by the small amounts of polenta and ground almonds – even a little change with these makes a large difference to the crumb of the cake. I came up with this recipe about a year ago as I wanted a sponge that was a little denser so that layers could be cut more easily and to offset the extra cream or sweetness that I would then fill those extra layers with. The experiment works a treat for this purpose, but I wouldn’t use it for when I wanted a more traditional, lighter sponge texture.
- This cooks at a lower temperature, for longer to keep the layers as flat as possible.
- This is a small but high cake; it surprisingly feeds about 8 – 10 as the layers are tall and rich.
- Scale up the amounts for a larger cake if you prefer (I’d suggest doubling for a 30cm cake tin).
- Polenta is pretty easy to find in the UK – it will be in the world foods aisle at your local supermarket or an asian store. You may find it labelled as ‘Fine Corn Meal’ rather than polenta – I’ve got some of this from the Natco brand (green 1.5kg packet) which sells in all the main supermarkets in the UK.
Notes on edible flowers
Be careful what you pick – but some flowers you can rely on. Nasturtiums, lavender heads, marigold petals, violas, heartsease (native pansies) and rose petals plus other pansies with the green parts removed are all OK. [‘Heartsease’ is the traditional English name for pansies in the garden centre – these are all edible and can even be found amongst the herb section.] The Royal Horticultural Society has a nice page for more information. And if you’re still unsure – either replace with fresh berries or go check online as there are plenty of edible flower references out there.
- 2 x 20cm round tins
- Whisk/mixer and bowls
- Cooling rack
- Sharp bread knife
- A piping bag and large round nozzle if you want to pipe the cream, or a palette knife to spread it
- Unsalted butter, softened – 166g
- Caster sugar – 166g
- Eggs, medium – 3
- Plain flour – 110g
- Ground almonds – 20g
- Polenta – 25g
- Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
- Lemon – finely grated zest of one small lemon (or half a large one)
Ingredients – for filling and decorating
- Double cream – 300g
- Icing sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
- Strawberry jam – a 350g/ 400g jar (you won’t need quite all of it)
- Chocolate spread, such as Nutella
- Strawberries – a large handful
- Edible flowers (see notes above) – I specifically chose ‘hot’ coloured flowers in reds and yellows to compliment the slightly yellow sponge an make the whole thing very summery
- Prepare the two tins – grease and flour or line (you know your tins well and which method they need)
- Turn the oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
- Cream the butter and sugar together
- Add all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
- Add one of the eggs to the butter/sugar mix and a couple of spoons full of the dry mix and incorporate together gently
- Repeat with the remaining two eggs and the rest of the dry mix
- Add in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest and ensure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated
- Evenly distribute the mix between the two tins, weighing the tins if need be
- Cook in the bottom of the oven for 30 mins
- A skewer or cocktail stick should come out dry
- Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly
- Once cool, carefully slice each of the cake layers in two – you need four layers
- Inspect the two top halves and keep the nicest-looking one for the top of the cake
- Place a bottom half on a cake stand or plate and spread over a layer of jam
- Whip the double cream with the icing sugar and vanilla, to make Chantilly cream,and spoon into a piping bag, if using
- Pipe or spread the double cream over the jam
- Place the next layer of sponge on top and coat with the chocolate spread
- Slice up a few strawberries and arrange the slices on the chocolate spread
- Place the third layer of sponge onto the chocolate and strawberries and then cover that with a layer of strawberry jam and double cream, just like the bottom layer
- Finally, place the reserved ‘best’ top layer of sponge onto everything
- Decorate with the edible flowers and a few extra strawberries
2 thoughts on “Strawberry shortcake”
I have just made the biscuits and loved them even though I forgot to put polenta and ground almonds not mentioning the edible flowers and other decorations. I loved the texture of the bisuits. Beautiful – crunchy, light. They were just perfect on their own!
Will try my second attempt with all ingredients included, but I think, I will put only a third of sugar… For me they turned out a little over sweet.
Overall, these biscuits if followed all advices will be your hit dessert, or perfect afternoon treat!
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So flattered you tried my recipe.
Pplease go ahead and try it how you like, but do remember that sugar does more in a recipe than just add sweetness: it is hygroscopic (attracts water), it leavens (helps raise) up to a certain amount and then retards the raise in a high ratio, it preserves, it stabilises egg whites and it contributes to the Maillard process. So, when there is a certain amount of sugar in a recipe it’s doing other things, not just making it sweet – so when you try again and add the polenta and ground almonds it may make a lot of difference to the end results if you don’t use all the sugar.
I would love to see how you’ve done with this – can you link to a photo or post one here?
Thank you for trying the recipe and taking the time out to feedback to me – I truly appreciate it. Much love, Lynn