It was my daughter's 11th birthday last week. This is my "fruit monster" daughter I'm talking about. She is fortunate in that she absolutely loves fruit and veg and would actually rather eat it than anything else and puzzles over why other children spend their money on buying sweets. She is also fortunate that her birthday falls in prime soft fruit season. This means that usually I make her a birthday fruit-related cheesecake as her birthday cake. Her favourite is raspberry and white chocolate, with her age marked out in fresh raspberries.
I was all set to make this cheesecake again this year when I came across a "Strawberry Pinata Cake" on facebook a few weeks ago. This instantly caught my attention. Recently there has been surge in the popularity of pinata cakes and you can even buy special cake tins for the purpose. Every other one I have seen have had Smarties or something similar tumbling out of the middle so I have been uninspired. This cake, however, had fresh strawberries as the hidden central surprise... and I instantly knew a suitable occasion for such a cake. I pinned it to my Pinterest page and checked with my daughter that this cake would appeal. She was very enthusiastic.
Last year Steve revamped our strawberry bed so this year we have had a lovely crop of strawberries but I was a little anxious that by the time it came to her birthday, the strawberries would be tailing off. This is why raspberries are usually my fruit of choice for her cake. I was so unconvinced that I would have decent strawberries that for a moment when I was doing my online grocery order I hovered over the punnets of strawberries and considered buying some just to be safe. However, I figured that if I wasn't in the shop to choose the punnet, I would probably end up with a collection of unripe, tasteless fruit anyway.
As it turned out, I needn't have worried. On the eve of her birthday I went out to pick the required fruit and quickly filled my basket up with beautiful strawberries. The recipe called for 300g and it was clear that I had more than enough. So the next morning I set about making 3 sponges for the layers using a straightforward sandwich cake recipe. The recipe suggested that each sponge should be cut in half horizontally to make a stack of 6 layers of cake but my sponges were a little skinny for slicing in half so I decided 3 layers would be adequate. I think 6 layers would have been a bit excessive and over done on the jam and cream in between anyway.
Whilst the sponges cooled, I went out to her sports day. She was excited to have sports day on the same day as her birthday. Then, when I got back from that I set about assembling the cake, using smaller strawberries to fill the centre and the larger ones to decorate the top. Anyway, it turned into an impressive stack of a cake and my daughter was thrilled to see it when she got home. But of course, the best part was cutting into it and seeing the fresh strawberries inside. I have a feeling this cake might feature again in future birthdays... or even next time we have a flush of lovely strawberries.
Adapted from recipe by By Jenny Paulin - http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/