This pretty cake would not be out of place in the window of a fine French patisserie store, filled with fresh berries and topped with sugar macarons.
- For the cake batter
- 340g butter, softened
- 340g caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- 340g self-raising flour, sifted
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
- Pink food colouring paste
- 130g ground almonds
- 180g icing sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 80g caster sugar
- Pink food colouring paste
- 450g clotted cream (or 600ml double cream, whipped to stiff peaks)
- 300g strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 tbsp strawberry jam
- 300g raspberries
- 2 tbsp raspberry jam
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Food-safe fresh leaves, such as mint or bay leaves
Begin by preparing the macarons. Put the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz to a fine powder. Sift the nut powder into a bowl, returning any pieces that do not pass through the sieve to the blender. Blitz, then sift again.
In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then, continuing to whisk, add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the meringue is smooth and glossy. Add the food colouring paste, then add the nut powder, one-third at a time, folding in with a spatula. As you fold, the colour will become even. It is very important to get the meringue to the right texture; it needs to be folded until it is just soft enough that it will not quite hold a peak. Drop a little of the mixture onto a plate; if it settles into a smooth surface, it is ready. If it holds a peak then you need to fold it a few more times. If you fold it too much it will be too runny and the macarons will not hold their shape.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large, round nozzle. Pipe 3cm circles on to baking sheets lined with silicone mats, spacing them out well as they will spread during cooking. Leave the macarons on the sheets for 1 hour, so that a skin forms. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C.
Bake the macarons for 20–30 minutes, until firm, then let cool completely on the baking sheets. Turn the oven up to 180°C. Grease and line three 20cm round cake tins with baking parchment.
For the cake batter, use an electric whisk to mix the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the eggs and whisk again. Fold in the flour, baking powder and buttermilk or sour cream using a spatula, until incorporated.
Spoon one-third of the cake batter into one of the cake pans. Divide the remaining cake batter into two bowls and colour one portion pale pink and the other portion a deeper pink. Transfer to the remaining pans.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the cakes spring back to the touch and a knife inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Trim away the edges of the cakes to reveal the coloured sponge. Place the deep pink cake on a serving plate and spread with a generous layer of clotted cream. Top with the strawberries, then spoon over the strawberry jam. Top with the pale pink cake and cover with more cream, most of the raspberries and then the raspberry jam. Top with the plain cake and dust with icing sugar.
Sandwich 8–10 pairs of macarons together with a little of the cream. Store the remaining macarons in an airtight container to eat another day. Decorate the cake with macarons, raspberries and leaves. Serve
straight away or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
If you don’t feel ready to tackle making macarons, you can make it easy on yourself and buy them from a shop or online.