Beautiful imperfection: Strawberry sponge cake

Cakes and bakes, Fruity cakes

Here’s a list of every baker’s top 10 worst nightmares (in order of frustrating-ness; #10 being the most ‘I’m going to pull my hair out and throw a tantrum and get in a mood with myself and everyone’ frustrating):

  1. Getting all your ingredients together for some late night baking and then finding out your measuring scale has run out of battery
  2. Forgetting to take your eggs and butter out of the fridge to cool down at room temperature
  3. Mistakenly using self-raising flour instead of plain flour
  4. Forgetting to write down the ingredients/measurements for your favourite recipe
  5. Getting oven burnt. Arms: when reaching to get the cake. Fingers: when you can’t find oven gloves and you think you’re SuperBakerWoman and the quicker you take it out then the less pain you will feel
  6. Cleaning up (!)
  7. Stuck-in-the-tin cake because you didn’t grease/flour your tin properly
  8. Burnt cake
  9. Making souffle (according to Joe)

All these can be easily avoided BUT that is what makes it so frustrating. In this case, I was hit with #10. A cracked cake normally means that the oven was too hot or you cooked it for too long. I realised that I had left about 3 other baking racks at the bottom of the oven while baking the cake. So these metal racks absorbed and released a lot of heat quickly thereby cooking the cake in a hotter condition. If the outer corners of the cake is ready but the middle isn’t, the best solution will be to cover with foil (shiny side down)…but I didn’t have any foil left (make that #11).

Despite all of this, the cake tasted better than it looked. It tasted very fresh because of the chopped strawberries I used as a filling right between the jam and buttercream. The sponge cake itself was dense enough to absorb the juices without being soggy. It’s best eaten when it had been left in the fridge for 2-4 hours.

Ingredients + Method

For the sponge

  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4
  2. Beat the sugar and butter on high speed for 7 minutes until light and fluffy. Keep beating while addong the eggs and flour alternatively; 1 egg, wait for 30 seconds then 3 tablespoons of flour. Then repeat until you’ve used up the eggs and flour. Add the baking powder and vanilla extract and keep beating for 5 minutes.
  3. If you’re using two small tins (neatest and cleverest way to do it) then divide the mixture between the two tins. If using one tin, pour it all into the tin then smooth over with the back of the spoon.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 25 minutes should be the minimum so don’t open it until then to avoid a sunken middle.
  5. Take out the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and don’t cut into two (if you have one big cake) until it has totally cooled down.

For the filling

  • 3 heaped tbsp strawberry jam
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 50 cream cheese e.g. Original Philadelphia
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
  • 100g fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

  1. In a bowl, chuck in the chopped strawberries and icing sugar and mix gently
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the butter and icing sugar on the highest level until lighter. Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and a few drops of the strawberry juice from 1 (this is completely optional but be warned that it will make the filling a bit runny)
  3. Leave the chopped strawberries and buttercream mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Once you have cut the cake into two, use the buttercream fillling on the BOTTOM side then evenly scatter the strawberry chunks on it.
  5. One the TOP side of the cake, spread the jam then quickly but carefully flip and  place it on top of the bottom side.
  6. Decorate as appropriate and leave in the fridge until ready.
  7. Bon appétit!


What is your worst baking nightmare? Any of the ones mentioned above?

Posted by

Hello, I’m Aisha and I am a foodaholic. If weight gain does not correlate with food intake, my whole life would be about food. I’d eat (more of) it, breathe it, swim (although I can’t swim) in it, drown (since I can’t swim) in it. I’d speak the language of food and my body would be food. I’d probably end up eating myself. My brain is occupied with food thoughts 84.74% of the time. If I didn’t go running at least 4 times a week like I do now then I’d definitely be 90kg or 14 stones or 1000000 stones or more. And I wish I didn’t care because I’d be the happiest fattest person ever as long as I eat good food. So welcome to the virtual food side of my brain and let’s get virtually fat together.

11 thoughts on “Beautiful imperfection: Strawberry sponge cake”

  1. Your 5-10 are my worst nightmares. That cake looks wonderful and I like the look of a cracked cake. If I want perfection, I’ll go to someone who does it for a living. Such a nice blog:)


  2. Thank you! I think there’s something about the cracks that adds character, similar to laughter lines on the corners of someone’s lips or by their eyes. It’s something truly special.


    • I totally would’ve sent it your way but my family devoured it before I could even say ‘strawberries’!


  3. Cake looks amazing!!!! I like cracked cakes. It means they’re crusty which I adore.
    Incidentally, my worst nightmare is when I get out ingredients as I need them while baking and then finding out I’ve run out of flour, or am 1 egg short or horrors, my husband has somehow used up 500g of butter in 2 days!


  4. Thank you very much. I do actually like cracked/crumbly/crusty corners of cakes and brownies, the bits no one else loves.

    Haha I hate when that happens! I think that would be my mum’s worse nightmare as well. Imagine being half way through the mixing and realising that you don’t have any baking powder left on a Sunday evening. If she could have thrown me in the oven, she probably would’ve.


  5. The cracked cake adds an attraction. It looks real and therefore excellent. Beautiful post and photos btw.


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