Everyone needs an easy, show-stopper pud that can be thrown together with minimal fuss. And this berry and citrus curd cake is the one I roll out most often. If, like me, most of your dinners with friends get a little fuzzy round the edges by the time the main course has finished, you’ll love this recipe as it can all be done before your friends arrive. Leftovers are also amazing the next day as the curd and berries soak in to the sponge.
Some of you may be familiar with my food processor Victoria sponge. In fact, I’ve loved seeing your photos of the cakes you’ve made for birthdays using this recipe so keep them coming. I’ve made this sponge cake so many times that it has become a bit of a safety blanket for me when I don’t have the energy or inclination to attempt a fancier dessert when we have people coming over. It can be made in the food processor in 10 minutes and then cooks for 25 minutes.
As we’re now in that glorious part of the year when berries are in season, I knew I could easily make my cake and lazily top it with berries in their natural state. So I bought some stunning berries at the local farmers market from Prevedelli farms – a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and Olallieberries (which are very specific to the west coast). Out of berry season you could use frozen raspberries.
I had some of my homemade grapefruit curd in the fridge (you could use a good shop-bought lemon curd) which added an extra layer of deliciousness. I smeared each cake (the recipe below makes two small cakes) with the curd, then plonked the berries on top then served it with vanilla ice cream on the side.
In the past I’ve skipped the curd and just smeared the cake with slightly melted, good vanilla ice cream or mascarpone, then topped it with the berries and poured some limoncello over the top. You’ll have to serve it immediately if you use the ice cream like this.
A few tips – make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. I never used to bother but when I do my cake is much lighter. The way I get around this is to either weigh everything out the morning or the night before and pop it in the food processor bowl to sit and warm up. Or if I’m really in a dash I microwave the butter until it is soft but not melted (less than a minute) and pop the fridge-cold eggs into a jug of hot water for a couple of minutes to warm up.
I’m not giving cup measurements here as I do think this type of cake needs the precision only weighing can bring.
Ingredients (makes two cakes that, will serve 8-10 people)
225g (8oz – 2 sticks) butter, very soft but not melted
225g (8oz) granulated un-bleached sugar
1 and a half teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature (warm them for a few minutes in a jug of warm water if they are in the fridge)
200g (7oz) self-raising flour or 185g (6.5oz) all-purpose / plain flour mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g (1oz) corn flour [cornstarch]
a pinch of sea salt
3-4 tablespoons milk
Plus your choice of topping (see notes above) – Either good shop-bought curd or home made curd, berries, cream, ice cream…
To make the cake:
1. Make the curd ahead of time by following this recipe.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of parchment paper, or the butter papers, then butter the sides of the tins.
3. Put all the cake ingredients except for the milk in the food processor and process until you have a smooth thick batter.
4. Gradually add the milk through the funnel while you pulse to incorporate it into the batter – you want a soft dropping consistency.
5. Scrape the batter into the two lined tins – try your best to get equal amounts in each and use a silicone spatula to get every last bit (apart from the necessary amount to make the bowl licking part fun) but no need to start weighing them unless you are in a baking competition!
6. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cakes are golden and are starting to pull away from the side of the tin. If you gently touch the top it should spring back.
7. Leave the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
8. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes then turn them out to continue cooling on a cooling rack. Peel the paper off and discard. Leave the cakes to cool completely before topping them. Once cool they can keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.
9. To decorate, put the top of one of the cakes down on a plate or cake stand (you want to be left with the flat bottom of the cake facing upwards). Spread the flat bottom (now top!) with ice cream, mascarpone, jam or curd. Be generous. Then plop berries over the top in an artistic fashion and serve at room temperature. The topped cake will keep in the fridge for 3 days but be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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