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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Benjamina Ebuehi

Benjamina Ebuehi’s recipe for a roasted strawberry, lemon and mint cake

Benjamina Ebuehi's roasted strawberry, mint and lemon layer cake.
Benjamina Ebuehi’s roast strawberry, mint and lemon layer cake. Photograph: Laura Edwards/The Guardian. Food styling: Benjamina Ebuehi. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Julia Aden.

I rarely let a summer go by without roasting a tray of strawberries. It’s a process that intensifies their flavour and produces a ruby-red syrup, which I use in everything from yoghurts to margaritas. In this summery celebration cake, the roast fruit is blitzed up and mixed into the silkiest Swiss meringue buttercream, turning it a delicate pastel pink. Don’t be put off by all the different elements here: you can prepare most of them a day or two in advance to make it more manageable.

Roast strawberry, lemon and mint cake

Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 12

For the cake
300g plain flour
260g caster sugar
130g unsalted butter
, softened, plus extra for greasing
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 large lemon, zested, and the juice of half
220ml milk
2 large eggs

For the syrup
50g caster sugar
6 fresh mint leaves

For the roast strawberries
300g strawberries, large ones halved, smaller ones kept whole, plus extra, sliced, for filling and decorating
50g caster sugar
6-8 fresh mint leaves

For the buttercream
120g egg whites
180g caster sugar
220g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Grease and line two 23cm cake tins.

Put the flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and lemon zest in a stand mixer or large bowl and beat for two to three minutes, until the mixture is very fine and sandy. In a jug, combinethe milk and eggs, then, with the motor still running, slowly add to the dry mix and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 27-30 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

For the syrup, heat the lemon juice, sugar, mint leaves and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat. Prick the cooled cakes with a skewer and drizzle the syrup over.

Turn up the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the strawberries in a baking dish, toss with the sugar and mint, then roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway, until the strawberries are soft and syrupy. Leave to cool, pick out the mint and blitz the strawberries to a puree in a blender. Set aside.

For the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water. Whisk the mixture as it heats, until it is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously or on a on high speed in a stand mixer until the whites turn thick and glossy.

Add all the butter and continue to whisk. The mixture will look like it’s split, but keep beating and it will come together. Add the vanilla and half the strawberry puree, and whisk until smooth.

To assemble, put one cake on a plate, spread with a layer of buttercream and some strawberry puree. Add some sliced strawberries, then top with the other cake, bottom side up. Spread the rest of the buttercream on the top and sides. Decorate with extra strawberries and mint leaves.

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