Sunday, 22 June 2008

Berry and custard cake

While I enjoy tackling complicated, involved recipes – indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a blog if each week my comments amounted to “open the packet, pour it out into a bowl” – there is something very rewarding about a simple recipe that looks so much more. This is definitely such a recipe. The finished cake looks sophisticated and like you spent several hours on it. In truth the whole cake is baked in one go and once it’s baked there’s little more to do than eat it!

This is a perfect cake to make right now when the summer berries are abundant and of beautiful quality. I used English raspberries and blackberries but you could use any mix of berries that take your fancy. Nothing says summer like a colander full of berries!

Once the cake batter is in the tin you sit the berries on top:

Then cover the berries with custard:

The custard is incredibly easy to make and as it is made with soured cream rather than the more usual double cream it has a very slight tart edge that compliments the berries perfectly. If you normally find custard too sweet then give this a go.

Whilst cooking the cake encases the custard and this is what it looks like once baked; I love the way you can see the berries just waiting to burst free from the squidgy sides of the cake:

I knew the cake would taste delicious but thought it needed something to make it look pretty. The recipe recommended serving it with whipped cream and more berries so I though why not put these on top of the cake?

The berries clearly thought this was a good decision as they are positively glowing with happiness!

This is the sort of cake where everybody wants a second slice. Can you blame them?

Cream, custard, berries and sponge. The perfect summer cake. Enjoy!

If some of the measurements in the recipe look strangely precise it is because I converted it from a US recipe in cups.

Finally I got to use my new cake tin this week – I like things that go beyond being merely useful and are also beautiful. I ordered mine from Amazon.

For the cake:
125g (1 cup) plain flour
112g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
300g (3 cups) mixed berries (I used raspberries and blackberries)

For the custard topping:
475ml (2 cups) soured cream
112g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 ½ tablespoons custard powder
2 egg yolks
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Optional decoration: whipped cream and raspberries

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
- Mix together all the cake ingredients, except the berries, until you have well combined and smooth batter.
- Spoon into the cake tin and level.
- Place the berries evenly over the surface of the cake batter and put the tin to one side.
- Now make the custard topping. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until you have a nice yellow runny custard.
- Pour the custard gently over the berries so as not to disturb them.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until the custard is well set. Mine took 60 minutes. Don’t worry if the cake creeps up over the custard whilst baking – it gives a rather nice ‘enclosed’ look, as if the sponge base is a bowl for the custard.
- Leave to cool in the tin, on a wire rack. The cake will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.
- Serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired; you can either pipe it on top of the cake and place the berries on top or serve separately in bowls.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


Beth said...

It looks so impressive. Can't believe its so easy to make!!

Holler said...

You are torturing me here! It is just not fair! I need a slice right now. But fear not, I have taken down a note of the recipe!

Anonymous said...

yum! i've never seen a recipe where you pour custard on top and then bake the whole thing.. but it looks creamy and delicious. thanks for the recipe!

glamah16 said...

That is the perfect summer cake. I love the tin.

Soo said...

Knowledge that this cake would be waiting for me when I arrived at the office* was the ONLY thing that could convince me to get up at 5:55 this morning.

And it was worth it!

*Monday morning cake is a perk of working with the Caked Crusader, and the price of my silence on her true identity!

Big Boys Oven said...

wow! . . . you decorated this pieces so well . . I am sure it is a sure winner!

Sophie said...

We'd like to invite you to participate in our July berry recipe contest. All competitors will be placed on our blogroll, and the winner will receive a fun prize! Please email me,, if you're interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details. (Click on my name in the message to visit our blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I am such a fan of your blog. It never fails to delight. I will happily convert back to American measurements...unless, would you consider posting the original version?

Patti said...

Ohhh, this looks so SO good! I would love to make this the next time berries are on sale. :)

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi "Anonymous" (it feels odd typing that!)

I will put the recipe up in cups for you - hopefully tonight

Thanks for your interest in my site

Cakelaw said...

This looks absolutely wonderful - I would love a huge slice. If it is simple to make, all the better I say.

JZ @ Tasty treats said...

the cake looks awesome!! :-) and the cake tim is also really beautiful..i wish i had one!! :-)

Dee said...

A second slice?? I'll take the lot, thank you very much! The cake tin is really pretty, too :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Caked Crusader,

I'm remaining Anonymous because I am writing from work (!) so need to be quick. Your great pictures and deliciously detailed descriptions are a feast for the eyes and a welcome diversion during my coffee breaks. Thank you for your wonderful blog and for agreeing to post the American version. You rock!


The icing is sooo yummy ... truly mouth-watering

Sophie said...

This is a beautiful cake! Berries always have a way of making desserts extra delicious! That cake case is so adorable :D.

Thanks for letting us know you'll be taking part in this month's recipe contest :). Feel free to email me at if you have anymore questions!

Good luck!

KI Chief Blogger

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That looks delicious! I always learn new things about cakes from your site and this one really caught my eye. My wife keeps asking me for more cakes in the dessert line up, but I'm always so much more inclined to playing with fruits and custards. This looks like the best of both worlds!

Lorette said...

nice one really! just discovered your blog (I am the one who posted oabout the ultimate comfort food on FBA), will be back....after I test the cinnamon sugar puff cakes ( i LOVVVVVVVVVVVE cinnamon).and guess what? I too collect tins (although all shapes and sorts) and used to get overdose of Sponge moved on to Number Jacks and Space Pirates!!!!

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Simply delicious and IMPROMPTU i long to taste it !

Gloria said...

My,My oh My this looks wonderful and delicious!!! really beauty pictures! yummy Gloria

I love the tin too! so cute!

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

The cake is awesome..the berries look so good sitting on the fresh cream..I would surely go for a third piece too :)

Love the cake tin!!

Ling's Passion said...

I love your new cake tin. Have never seen one like this before.

Nancy in Holland, Michigan said...

This looks like the perfect dessert for my knitting group this week. One big question though: Custard Powder? Can you tell me more about this ingredient, and do you happen to know if it would be available in the US? Thanks CC.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Nancy

I've just googled "is custard powder available in the US" and it seems that it is. The first couple of hits were for online ex-pat shops i.e. to keep Brits in the US stocked with their much loved products. If you want to see a picture of the item use this link:

To find out more, and see if it prompts you to realise what the US equivalent is try this wikipedia link:'s_Custard

Hope this helps!

The Caked Crusader

susie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susie said...

What is caster sugar and can I use tapioca for the custard powder? Where do you purchase these items? This recipe looks like a vintage recipe my Grandmother use to make. I have been looking all over for it ;>)

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Susie

Caster sugar is the white sugar we use in the UK. I'm not sure where you are in the world but any white sugar (such as granulated sugar) would be fine. Avoid anything too fine like icing (confectioner's) sugar.
As for a custard powder substitute I can't think of one. Custard powder is availble on line - if you're in the US it's available on some ex-pat Brit websites.
Hope this helps

Kind regards

The Caked Crusader

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Susie

I've been chatting with my Canadian friend about a possible substitute for custard powder - she wonders whether jello pudding mix might work. In the recipe the custard powder is to flavour and firm up the cream when baked. Perhaps an equal amount of jello pudding powder might do the same thing? Can't guarantee it, as have never heard of jello pudding.
This is what my friend thought might work:

Hope this helps!

susie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susie said...

Hello there..thank you for answering me so quickly :>) I am in the U.S. As far as Jello pudding goes, it would only firm up when cooled. I am unsure how it would work to bake with it. I do know that I have made a crockpot cake using it and it made it very moist. I will do search on custard powder and see what I can find about it. Do you know it's main ingredient? Is it starch? Thank you bunches!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Susie

I just googled Bird's Custard Powder and found that it contains the following ingredients: Cornflour, Salt ,flavorings, Colour (Annatto). Contains no artificial colours.
So maybe you could just use cornflower and some vanilla extract?

susie said...

Here is some information that I found. It seems you can use pudding mix. I am going to give it a try.. If I was not suppose to post this kind of information please delete it...I am sorry in advance. I thought someone else might benefit from this.
Custard Powder

Custard Powder is not actually custard which has been dried into a powder. It's mostly a starch that has been coloured yellow, sweetened and flavoured so that when hot milk is added the starch will make not only thicken the liquid, as a starch is bound to do anyway, but to give it the right colour, taste, and aroma for a custard-like sauce.

There are several name brands of Custard Powder, and many stores sell their own brands as well. When you mention Custard Powder, though, it's probably very hard for someone not to picture the red, yellow and blue cardboard tins that say "Bird's" on them.

Bird's Custard Powder is based on corn starch. The starches that other Custard Powder brands use include tapioca or sago starch. A Bird's tin lists as its ingredients the following: cornstarch (aka cornflour in the UK), milk solids, glucose solids, vegetable fat, sugar, flavours, salt, potassium phosphate, emulsifier, free-flowing agent, colorants including Tartrazine, and acidifying agent. Some say the version of Bird's made in North America doesn't taste as good as the version made in Britain.

Whatever the brand of Custard Powder, though, the ingredients are very similar to a North American Vanilla Pudding Mix.

Bird's also makes now an Instant Custard Powder which doesn't require milk at all. You just add boiling water in a measuring cup or jug, stir, and serve. The Instant is mostly available in the UK, and quite rare still in North America.

Cooking Tips
You stir the Custard Powder into boiling milk, and add sugar. For thicker custards, use a full-fat milk, condensed milk, or a thinner milk with some instant powdered milk stirred in. The containers will give you exact proportions to use. If it turns out too thin on you, you can always add cornstarch (mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a teaspoon of cold milk before adding).

Because Custard Powder has no eggs in it, there is no danger of it curdling on you as real custard can.

Vanilla Pudding Mix

Custard Powder was invented by Alfred Bird in Birmingham, England in 1837 for his wife who couldn't eat eggs. He began marketing it across the UK in 1844. In 1947, Bird's became part of General Foods. By 1988, through various mergers and acquisitions, it had become part of the Kraft line until the fall of 2004, when it was sold to the company called "Premier Foods".

Instant Custard Powder was launched in 1979.

Literature & Lore
Custard Powder dust is actually explosive (as is flour and sugar dust). The dust has to first form a dust cloud, which if ignited in a confined space will explode. The organic particles in such dust clouds combust almost instantly, releasing carbon dioxide and steam in an explosion.

moodswingingmommy said...

I stumbled upon your blog last night while following a craving and think this is exactly what I need! Just got the berries and the vanilla pudding mix and I'm ready to go. Thanks so much!