If Queen Victoria got to have her own cake, then why shouldn’t our Queen Elizabeth? This features light layers of Genoise sponge, sandwiching lemon curd and cream cheese frosting, topped with fresh strawberries and pieces of candied lemon. It takes a bit of work, but then it is a special occasion!
50g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
250g caster sugar
8 large eggs
200g granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons, plus 2 more lemons, slicing into ½cm discs
8 large strawberries, halved or sliced
100g unsalted butter
Juice and strips of zest from 2 unwaxed lemons
200g caster sugar
480ml double cream
140g icing sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2 x 180g tubs of cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
1. Heat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Brush 2 x 20cm cake tins with melted butter, line the bases with parchment, then dust well with flour, tipping out any excess. Set aside.
2. Put the caster sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Using an electric hand mixer, whisk for 7 minutes or until the mixture is pale and has trebled in volume. Remove from the heat, then slowly pour in the melted butter, gently folding it in as you go, until it is fully incorporated.
3. Gently fold the flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture, then pour into your prepared tins. Cook for 25 minutes until the cakes are golden and risen – a cocktail stick pushed into a cake should come out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Make the lemon curd. Put the butter into a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Add the lemon juice and strips of zest and the sugar, stirring occasionally until the butter and sugar have melted, then remove the pan from the heat and leave for 10 minutes, so the lemon zest infuses the butter mixture.
5. Remove the strips of zest and return the pan to the heat, so the water simmers again under the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then reduce the heat under the butter mixture and gradually beat the eggs into it. Keep cooking, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes until the curd is custard-like in consistency. Then turn off the heat, remove the bowl from the pan and stir the curd every couple of minutes as it cools to prevent a skin forming.
6. Make some candied lemon slices. In a wide pan, combine the 200g granulated sugar and the lemon juice with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, add the lemon slices in a single layer and simmer on a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, carefully flipping once or twice. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
7. Make the frosting. Add the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the cream cheese and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag and set aside.
8. To assemble, cut each of the 2 cakes in half horizontally, giving you 4 sponge discs. Put one disc on a serving plate. Use your piping bag to pipe a tube of frosting around the edge of the disc (this will act as a kind of breakwater, keeping the curd from seeping out). Spread ⅓ of the curd over the top of the cake, then pipe on a thin layer of the frosting, spreading it out with a spatula so that it’s even. Place another disc on top, pushing down gently so that it is secured firmly in place, then once again pipe on a frosting breakwater, smear over ⅓ of the curd and spread over some frosting. Repeat this once again, so you have 3 topped layers, then lay on the final disc of cake.
9. Use ½ of the remaining frosting to cover the outside of the cake, smoothing the sides with a spatula so that they’re flat and even. Top the cake with the remaining frosting, again smoothing out and evening with a spatula. Place the cake in the fridge until needed.
10. When you’re ready to serve, top the cake with the strawberry halves and the candied lemon slices (either in complete discs or halved into semi-circles), arranged in a pretty pattern. Union Jacks on cocktail sticks are entirely optional, but appropriate!