A lovely celebration cake, ideal for the summer birthdays and garden parties, with raspberry, almond and a delicious hint of lavender.
6 Clarence Court Braddock White duck eggs (500g total weight)
500g caster sugar
500g very soft unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
400g self raising flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond essence
2 teaspoons edible dried lavender, removed from stems and crushed
6 tablespoons elderflower cordial
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons good quality raspberry jam or preserve (higher fruit content lower sugar if possible)
300g very soft unsalted butter
650g icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons custard powder
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
4 tablespoons milk
Fresh flowers and fruit to decorate
Pre-heat the oven to 160c/ 320 f/ gas mark 3.
Start by making the sponges. You need to make 4 sponges in total so unless you have a big freestanding mixer, 4 x 20cm loose bottom sandwich tins and a double oven, we recommend splitting all the quantities for the cake mix in half and bake 2 sponges at a time.
Grease and line 2 x 20cm loose bottom sandwich tins and line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper. In a large bowl or mixer add 250g eggs, 250g caster sugar, 250g very soft butter, 200g self raising flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 50g ground almonds and 1 teaspoon crushed dried lavender. Beat until the mixture just comes together then stir in the almond essence. Don’t over beat the mixture.
Divide the mixture equally between the tins and level with a spatula. Place the tins in the oven and cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
When the cakes are ready, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. After 5 minutes, remove the cakes from the tin and allow to cool fully. Once the tins are cool, re-grease and line with fresh greaseproof paper and repeat the sponge making process again.
Place the elderflower cordial in a small saucepan on a low heat, until a little thickened then leave to one side. Mix the raspberry jam in a bowl until spreadable.
To make the buttercream icing, place the butter in a free standing mixer and beat until light and fluffy (around 4 minutes). Add half the icing sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes then add the remaining icing sugar and custard powder and beat for a further 2 minutes. Mix the vanilla paste with the milk and add 2 tablespoons vanilla milk to the icing. Continue to mix into a light and fluffy icing. Cover the icing bowl with cling film and place to one side.
When the sponges are cool carefully trim off the slightly risen tops to give level sponges. Use a pastry brush to brush over the elderflower syrup. Allow the syrup to soak into the sponges for a few minutes. Spoon the jam over 3 of the sponges and spread it out evenly. The last one will be turned upside down to make the top layer. Place the first layer onto a serving plate or board using a blob of buttercream to help keep the cake in place. Spread a thin, even layer of buttercream on top of the jam and sandwich the second sponge on top. Repeat 2 more times and finish with top layer turned upside down to make a perfectly level top. At this point it might be worth placing the cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream for 20 minutes or so.
To ice the whole cake spoon a good blob of buttercream on top of the cake and use a palette knife to spread a fairly thin layer of icing to cover. To thinly ice the sides of the cake use a palette knife to carefully spread a few blobs of buttercream really closely against the sponges. Ice and shave off excess icing in confident movements to achieve a “semi naked” cake look (there are lots of videos online that can demonstrate this).
Place the cake in the fridge if not using straight away to set overnight.
About 2 hours before serving take the cake from the fridge to come to room temperature. Arrange your fresh flowers and fruit on top to decorate.