This cake has been haunting me. Whenever I’ve planned to make it something has always come up that has thwarted me – everyone around me is sick of hearing about how I’m going to make it ...and then don’t. Well, the hex is gone – here is the strawberry mousse cake!
The English strawberry season is at its peak right now with luscious berries for sale everywhere you look. Sorry Rest of the World, but I don’t think anywhere can match England for strawberries – lots of strawberries look beautiful (I’m constantly disappointed by stunning looking but tasteless imports) but none have that strong satisfying juiciness and sweetness that you get from growing a strawberry outdoors in the English summer climate. I even love the aroma – that lovely fresh unmistakeable smell that hits you on opening the fridge!
I see this as a dessert cake; a slice of elegance to conclude a lovely lunch or dinner.
The mousse sits on a sponge base. I used the recipe for basic vanilla cupcakes and simply cut the sponge to size; I sliced the domed top off leaving a sponge disc of approximately 2cm tall:
What happened to the dome that I sliced off? Well, I’d like to say that I put it aside to use in a trifle or some such, but the truth is that I made a cup of tea, had a sit down and ate the excess sponge. Perks of the job!
As I knew this would be a tall cake I used a 9cm deep patisserie ring which I purchased from Amazon. You could use a springform cake tin and build up the height with foil but it might not be as effective.
The cake has to sit very snugly at the bottom of the ring – this is why an adjustable ring is helpful:
As desserts go, this is summer on a plate:
Who wants a slice?
Two things I learnt this week:
1. The smell of powdered gelatine makes me feel quite ill to the extent that I had to throw it away.
2. You can convert between leaf and powdered gelatine quite easily if you remember that 1 leaf = 3.5g powder.
For the sponge base:
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
For the mousse:
350g strawberries, hulled and washed
4 tablespoons icing sugar
5 gelatine leaves (if you want to use powdered gelatine this equates to 17g + 3 tablespoons of boiling water)
300ml whipping cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
Optional: Additional strawberries to set in the mousse
For the topping:
100g strawberries, hulled and washed, plus additional whole strawberries for decoration
1-2 tablespoons icing sugar
3 leaves gelatine (or 10g powdered + 2 tablespoons boiling water)
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Grease one 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tin.
- First make the sponge base. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, flour and milk and ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Spoon into the sandwich tin and level the surface.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took about 23 minutes.
- Leave the sponge to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
- When it is cool, use a knife or wire to cut the “dome” off the sponge as you need a nice flat surface for the mousse to sit on. I cut mine so I had a sponge disc that was 2cm tall.
- Sit the sponge disc on a plate and place a 20cm patissiere’s ring over it. I used this because it was much deeper than a cake tin. If you don’t have a 9cm tall patissiere’s ring then use a 20cm springform tin (without the base) and build up the height using foil or baking paper. However you achieve it, what you’re aiming for is the sponge sitting very snugly at that bottom of a 20cm ring with 9cm depth.
- Now make the mousse: Puree the strawberries (I used my food processor to do this) and place in a saucepan along with the icing sugar.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4-5 minutes.
- Heat the puree and icing sugar until it just reaches boiling point. Taste, to ensure it is sweet enough. If it isn’t, add icing sugar to taste. Leave to cool slightly.
- When the puree is cooler (but still warm) squeeze out any water from the gelatine leaves and stir into the puree ensuring all the gelatine has been fully integrated. Put to one side.
- Whip the cream and icing sugar until the soft peak stage.
- Stir the cooled strawberry puree mix into the cream. Don’t panic that it looks very runny!
- If you choose to, cut some strawberries in half and sit them up on the sponge base so the cut side is pressed against the metal ring. This looks pretty when you come to serve it.
- Pour the mousse gently over the sponge base, taking care not to disturb the halved strawberries (if using).
- Refrigerate until set – at least 2 hours.
- When the mousse is set, you can make the topping. Puree the strawberries and stir in the icing sugar.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 4-5 minutes.
- Heat the puree. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves before stirring into the warm puree.
- Place some strawberries on top of the set mousse, then pour the puree topping over.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.