Strawberry Sponge Cake (English Strawberry Shortcake)

a strawberry sponge cake layered up with whipped cream and fresh berries on a pink plate

This recipe comes here today via my Nain (Welsh for grandma) on my Dad’s side. My mum managed to write some of her recipes down before she passed away and this one is something we make every year. The sentiment behind this cake is that it’s the perfect way to share the, often small, first strawberry harvest of the season between the family.

We’ve always called it strawberry shortcake in my family but, since the American version of strawberry shortcake is something quite different, I thought I’d go with calling it strawberry sponge cake instead.

How to make Strawberry Sponge Cake – video

Strawberry sponge cake vs strawberry shortcake

The cake is not a Victoria sponge, rather, it’s a whisked sponge which doesn’t have any butter or oil added to it (so maybe more of a genoise). There are no raising agents added so the cake only gets its volume from whisking the eggs with sugar until super pale and fluffy. It’s pretty simple from there on, just fold in some flour and cornflour and then divide between cake tins. The great thing about this cake is that it bakes in 15 minutes and cools down quickly so you can make it incredibly fast from start to finish.

Using eggs to figure out the weight of sugar & flour

A quirk of this recipe which I just love is that it’s all about the ratios! It’s a recipe where you use the weight of the eggs (weighed in their shells) to determine how much sugar and flour you need to add. This means that it’s super simple to scale the recipe up or down. It also helps make the recipe more reliable as we’re removing the issue of eggs varying in size.

The ratio for this recipe of weight of eggs in their shells : weight of sugar : weight of flour is 2:2:1

i.e. you weigh the eggs in their shell, use that same weight of sugar and half that weight of flour. Simple!

If you only want a small, single layer cake, you can use 1 egg. If you prefer a 3 layer cake, use 3 eggs (and bake in 3 tins). I usually use 2 eggs to make a 2 layer cake.

Macerating the strawberries

Something that really boosts the flavour of strawberries is slicing them and mixing with some sugar then letting them sit for a few minutes. This draws moisture out of the strawberries which creates a pool of concentrated strawberry juice. The juice makes the strawberries glisten and turn deep red which, I think, makes them look even more delicious. It’s also so good to use the juice for soaking the baked cakes, making them moister and more flavourful.

Yogurt whipped cream

The original recipe just uses plain whipped cream in the filling and as such I’ve written it like that in the recipe card below. However when I’m making this, my favourite thing to do is use a combo of Greek yogurt and whipped cream, folded together, to fill the cake. It has a slight tang to it which helps to cut through the sweetness a bit more and is SO delicious with fresh fruit.

Dusting the cake tins with caster sugar & flour

Another thing we always do for this cake, which I never do for others, is to dust the greased cake tins with a mixture of caster sugar and flour. This creates a crispy crust on the edges of the cake which is just so so good. If you’re not bothered, you can just flour the cake tins but I do like putting in the extra little bit of effort for this simple cake.

a strawberry sponge cake layered up with whipped cream and fresh berries on a pink plate

Strawberry Sponge Cake

This is an English strawberry shortcake – a whisked sponge cake layered with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. A delicious way to serve up fresh strawberries when they're in season!
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Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs weighed in their shells
  • same weight as those eggs in caster sugar
  • ½ the weight of those eggs in plain white flour
  • 1 tsp lemon juice/neutral vinegar optional – see notes
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 pinch fine table salt
  • 300 g strawberries
  • 200 ml whipping cream or double cream (heavy cream)

Instructions

  • Weigh the eggs in their shells.
    Now weigh out the same amount in caster sugar
    Now weigh out half that amount in plain white flour.
    EXAMPLE: my 2 eggs in the video weighed 138g in their shells so I need 138g caster sugar and 69g of plain white flour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Grease two 6, 7 or 8 inch cake tins (if using an 8-inch cake tin, I advise using 3-4 eggs or your cakes will be very thin). Mix 1 tbsp each of caster sugar and plain white flour. Use this mixture to dust the cake tins around the base and sides, tapping out excess. Place onto a large baking tray (this makes it easier to take the cake tins out of the oven) and set aside.
  • Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Start whisking them with electric beaters whilst gradually streaming in the sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, whisk in the lemon juice/vinegar if you're using it. Keep whisking for around 5 minutes until the mixture is pale, thick and quadrupled in volume.
    2 eggs, same weight as those eggs in caster sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice/neutral vinegar
  • Sift in the flour, cornflour and salt then fold together gently until incorporated.
    ½ the weight of those eggs in plain white flour, 1 tbsp cornflour, 1 pinch fine table salt
  • Divide the batter between the two cake tins evenly and spread out to fill the tins.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your tin) until golden on top and, when pressed, the cakes spring back.
  • Remove from the oven and run a butter knife around the edge of the cakes to loosen from the tin whilst hot. Remove from the tins and set aside to cool.
  • Hull and slice the strawberries and add to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tsp caster sugar and toss together. Set aside to let them get juicy.
    300 g strawberries
  • Whip the cream with electric beaters or a whisk in a medium bowl until you get soft peaks.
    200 ml whipping cream or double cream (heavy cream)
  • Once the cakes have cooled, peel away and discard the baking paper. Lay one cake onto a plate, top with most of the whipped cream and strawberries. Lay the second cake on top. Dust the top with a small amount of caster sugar (optional – just for aesthetics!) and then with the remaining cream and berries.
  • Serve now or chill for up to 1 day (it's best eaten when it's just been assembled!)

Video

Notes

Use 3 eggs instead: use the same technique of weighing the eggs in their shells to calculate the amount of sugar and flour needed. Use 1.5 tbsp cornflour.
Lemon Juice/ Vinegar: the acidity in these ingredients helps to stabilise the egg white foam which means that your cake batter is more resilient so is more likely to remain fluffy! That said, I’ve never had any issues when I’ve omitted this. If you’re not confident with folding in dry ingredients (the part where it’s most likely you’ll knock some air out of the batter), then feel free to include the lemon/vinegar as it’s like an insurance policy to keep the cake light! If you don’t have any then don’t worry about it, just try to be as delicate as possible when you’re folding in the dry ingredients.
Yogurt whipped cream: I prefer my whipped cream to taste slightly tangy so I like to do 100ml cream, whipped to soft peaks, which I then fold 100g Greek yogurt into.
Make it dairy free: use a dairy free whipping cream alternative like Oatly whippable or Elmlea plant cream. 
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!
closeup of strawberry sponge cake on a pink plate

Ingredients for strawberry sponge cake – explained

  • Eggs: the weight of the eggs in their shells helps determine how much of the sugar & flour to use. The eggs are whisked with the sugar, unravelling the proteins in the eggs forming bubbles which can trap air. This cake has no raising agents so it needs these air bubbles in order to rise & have a spongey texture once baked.
  • Caster sugar: the sugar is whisked into the eggs, helping to stabilise the resulting foam. It also acts as a tenderiser as this cake has no butter/oil added (only fat from the egg yolks) so it needs the sugar for this. The sweetness is important obviously, but also acts as a flavour enhancer.
  • Vinegar/Lemon Juice: this is an optional add in. I usually don’t add it unless I have half a lemon lying around to use. The point here is that the acidity increases the stability of the egg white foam which will help to make your sponge lighter. I never really have any issues with the cake not being light, even when I don’t include the vinegar/lemon but you can add it in if you have some to hand 🙂
  • Plain flour: the plain flour gives structure to the whisked egg/sugar foam meaning that, once baked, it keeps its shape as a cake.
  • Cornflour: cornflour here is a starch which doesn’t contain gluten. As such, it helps to keep the cake tender whilst providing structure. It also absorbs water (from the eggs) and upon baking, gelatinises, holding some of that moisture in the cake. This helps to stop the cake getting too dry.
  • Whipping cream: I use whipping cream or double cream as we want a high enough fat content so that, upon whipping the cream with a whisk, air bubbles are able to form. This makes the cream thick and fluffy meaning it can be spread into the cake as a filling. The cream helps to cut through the sweetness of the cake and goes so well with the strawberries.
  • Strawberries: the star of the show! The fresh strawberries bring some juiciness to the cake as well as a beautiful flavour and slight tartness.

2 thoughts on “Strawberry Sponge Cake (English Strawberry Shortcake)”

  1. I just made this but it didn’t bake/rise very well and took 30 mins not 15 – and I realised it might be because baking powder isn’t in the recipe (but is in the description). Would love to make it again, could you check the ingredients?
    Thank you!

    1. It’s a whisked sponge and doesn’t contain any raising agents (that was a typo in the intro sorry!! – meant to write cornflour! The recipe is correct though – no raising agents at all) as the eggs provide the leavening. You have to make sure the eggs are fully whisked so they’re suuuuper light and pale which is why I recommend whisking for 5 minutes to get the maximum air into it. You also have to be careful when folding in the dry ingredients that you’re not knocking too much air out. It sounds like your oven may have been too cool which would explain why the cake took so long to bake AND why it sank. I’ve just checked the recipe in my mum’s cookbook and the quantities are correct but the oven temp is 180C with no indication if that’s for fan or not. Did you bake it at 160C fan? or 180C non-fan? I think maybe baking at 180C in both fan/non-fan may be the solution!

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