Ingredients

Vanilla Sponge Cake

6 eggs

1 cup/ 220g caster sugar

3 vanilla beans, seeds scraped

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup cornflour

1/2 cup self raising flour

10 strawberries, sliced thinly

Cooking spray, for cake tins

Custard Filling

1 cup milk

1 cup thickened cream

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream Frosting

1.2 L thickened cream

4 tbsp caster sugar

Purple food colouring

Edible flowers, to decorate

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C.  Spray 3 x 20cm round cake tins lightly with cooking spray and line bases of tins with baking paper.

2. For the Vanilla Sponge Cake, place eggs and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk on high speed for 8 minutes until mixture is pale, thick and fluffy.  Add vanilla seeds and essence and whisk until evenly mixed through.  Remove bowl from mixer.

3. Hold a sieve over the bowl and sift plain flour, cornflour and self raising flour over the egg mixture a little at time and gently fold flours through until just combined.  Divide mixture evenly between prepared cake tins.

4. Bake in oven for 18-20 minutes until cakes are well risen and spring back when lightly touched in the centres.  Remove from oven and set aside for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Remove baking paper and allow cakes to cool completely.

5. For the Custard Filling, place milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a medium saucepan and place over a medium heat until mixture just comes to the boil.  Remove from heat and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.  Strain into a jug.

6. Place egg yolks, caster sugar, cornflour and vanilla essence into a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk for 2-3 minutes until thick and pale then gradually add strained milk mixture and continue to whisk until well combined.

7. Return mixture to the saucepan and place on a medium heat.  Stir mixture continuously with a silicone spatula until mixture thickens, about 6-7 minutes.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a small shallow tray.  Cover custard directly with cling film to prevent a skin forming and place into fridge to cold and firm, about 2 hours.

8. For the Cream Frosting, place cream, sugar and colouring into a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk.  Whisk on high speed until thickened and firm peaks form.  Cover and place in fridge until needed.

9. To assemble, place one layer of Vanilla Sponge Cake onto a cake board or cake serving stand.  Spread half of custard over the cake and arrange a layer of sliced strawberries over the custard.  Top with another Vanilla Sponge Cake and repeat custard and strawberry layer.  Top with a third layer of cake.  Trim 3 lengths of dowel to the finished height of the cake and insert into the cake to support cake.

10. Spoon a generous amount of Cream Frosting onto the top of cake.  Using an offset spatula spread frosting over the top in a thick layer and cover the sides of the cake in a thin layer.  While turning the cake with one hand, use the offset spatula to mask the outside of the cake and remove any excess frosting to achieve a semi-naked cake.

11. Place remaining cream frosting into a piping bag fitted with a fluted tip and pipe around base of the cake.  Decorate with edible flowers.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

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