Chocolate Fraisier

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This lovely strawberry creation isn’t difficult to make but it is time consuming. It’s a rewarding effort as the finished product looks great. It should really be topped with marzipan but I’m not that keen on the stuff so have made it with a chocolate sponge decorated with strawberries.

You will need a round spring form tin, 9 inches by 2.5 inches, baking parchment, scissors and clingfilm. Start by making the sponge and while it’s cooling you can make the custard.

Chocolate Sponge

200g white granulated sugar, 100ml vegetable or sunflower oil, 200ml boiling water, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 280g self-raising flour and ½ teaspoon baking powder.

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Draw around the base of the springform tin and cut out a neat circle of baking paper.

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2. Replace the base into the cake tin and line with the circle of baking paper

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3. Mix the cocoa powder and hot water to give a smooth paste.

4. Add the sugar and oil, followed by the flour and baking powder.

5. Mix into a smooth batter (don’t change direction or you’ll knock the air out) and pour into the cake tin.

6. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Check it after 20 minutes; if a toothpick doesn’t come out clean, leave it in for a little longer.

Custard

1 litre milk (full fat or semi-skimmed), 6 generous tablespoons corn flour, 1-2 tsp of yellow food colouring, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and 100g sugar. You’ll also need 2 punnets or approximately 600g of strawberries for decoration.

2. Make the custard by pouring 900ml of the milk into a large saucepan and heat over a low flame. Whisk the corn flour into the remaining 100ml of milk, add the sugar and vanilla and stir the mixture into the saucepan of warm milk.

3. Stir continuously and add the yellow food colouring slowly. You may need more or less than the quantity specified, depending on how strong your food colouring is or indeed, how yellow you want your custard to be. (My mother makes her custard with a pinch of turmeric but I prefer food colouring).

4. Now return to your cake which should be cooling. I like to leave mine outside to cool but you will need to keep an eye out for birds (or urban foxes if, like me, you live in south London). Once your cake is completely cool, slice it horizontally in two. Cutting a cake whilst still warm may cause it to fall apart!

5. Gently remove the bottom half of the cake from the base of the tin and peel away the greaseproof paper. Wash and dry the tin before reassembling it. Line the sides with cling film.

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6. Place one half of the cake into the tin. If the top of your cake has risen into a dome, use this half for the bottom, with the dome facing upwards. Wash and dry one punnet of strawberries. Place strawberry halves around the outside of the tin, as shown below.

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7. Pour the custard into the cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula if need be. Carefully place the second half of the cake over the top.

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8. Allow to cool for an hour before covering in cling film and refrigerating. Refrigerating hot custard can cause it to crack. The custard should set after a few hours in the fridge but I usually leave mine to cool overnight.

9. Take the cake out of the fridge and gently ease off the sides of the cake tin.

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10. Carefully remove the cling film and decorate the top with strawberries. Dusting the top of the cake with icing sugar before adding strawberries can look quite nice. The pastry chef Will Torrent finishes his cake off with a mixture of pistachios and icing sugar instead, blitzing equal quantities together and sieving over the top.

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