Perfect summer baking – berry and vanilla cake


We are right in the heart of our British summer, with Wimbledon season in full swing, and sparkling wine and strawberries as far as the eye can see. As I am writing this, the sun is shining, my twitter feed is glowing with the promise of high temperatures and my garden is ablaze with all kinds of colour …
I really hope that that is still the case come July!
If you are looking for a bottle of English wine, Dorset hosts a number of sparkling wine producers, thanks mostly to our favourable weather, and I recommend seeking out a bottle of some of our finest. Not only can you visit places like Langham Wine Estate and Bride Valley for a vineyard tour, you can also stop in at your nearest wine shop for some local wisdom on the best tipple to match your occasion – like the award-winning Vineyards in Sherborne which recently celebrated their 17th birthday. Heather x

Image: Heather Brown
  • For the Cake
  • 8oz/225g butter
  • 8oz/225g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz/225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 punnet (usually 450g) of fresh strawberries or raspberries
  • strawberry or raspberry jam
  • For the icing
  • 4oz/110g softened butter
  • 10oz/285g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Heather Brown is on the committee of the Guild of Food Writers; a home economist with a passion for Dorset’s brilliant foodie scene. She runs Dorset Foodie Feed, championing Dorset’s food and drink businesses, as well as working with her food industry clients.
  • Smear some butter around the base and sides of two eight inch round baking tins, then line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to GM 5 or 170º fan. 
  • Wash and dry your strawberries, remove the green stalks and cut into quarters.
  • Either in a stand mixer, with an electric whisk or with a wooden spoon, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl really well. The mixture will change to be light and fluffy and the colour will turn pale. 
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg. If the mixture curdles slightly, you can add one spoonful of the flour and then beat well.
  • Slowly stir in the flour. Take care not to beat hard and knock out all of the air that you have just worked into the mix. 
  • Using a spoon, gently fold half of the strawberries into the cake batter until just mixed.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared tins and gently level the tops so they are mostly flat. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The cakes will be done when they have come away slightly from the edges of the tins and the top is springy to the touch. 
  • Leave the cakes to cool.
  • Remove the sponges from the baking tins.
  • Make a simple buttercream icing by combining the butter with the icing sugar and vanilla extract in a stand mixer or bowl and beat well together. At this stage the mixture will be too stiff. Add a few of the remaining fresh berries in and keep mixing gently – the juice from the berries will loosen the icing. If the mixture becomes too soft you can just add some more icing sugar. 
  • Place one sponge onto a large plate. Spoon on some jam and smooth over. Then add a little of the buttercream and smooth over. Place the next sponge on top. Add the remaining buttercream onto the top of the cake and smooth over. Finish with the remaining fresh berries.


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