Erdbeerkuchen in Germany is the messenger that summer is on its way. Once strawberries get ripe bakeries and grocery stores will sell prebaked sponge cake exactly for this purpose. Baking your own sponge is definitively worth the effort and much tastier. The same sponge cake is also used for a mixed fruit cake. Germans like to use bananas, kiwi fruit, and strawberries for their colors and flavor combination. The fruits on these kinds of cakes are always fresh and raw, a glaze preserves the fruit and keeps it in place. Jam under the fruit keeps the cake from getting soggy. Any kind of berries always makes me want to bake, and certainly when our local farmer’s strawberries get ripe. Much love to Sam Mclemore from Bountiful Harvest Farms, look at these beauties ↓
For the water sponge cake you need:
11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom
9-inch cake or pie pan that is lightweight
parchment paper cut into circles to fit above pans and buttered or oiled
butter or oil for parchment paper
3 large eggs separated
3 tbsp water
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 1/3 cup of cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
For the glaze you need:
1 tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup of red grape juice
To assemble the cake you need
3 – 4 tbsp of jam or jelly that compliments the strawberries like raspberry, strawberry, lemon curd, etc
2 pints of clean, dry, immaculate strawberries; leaves and any white parts trimmed off
Heavy whipping cream, whipped to accompany the cake
Set a rack in the middle and preheat to 410°F
Cut two parchment circles, one for each pan. Affix the larger circle inside the bottom of the larger tart pan. The smaller circle should be buttered on both sides and then attached to the outside bottom of the smaller pan. This pan will push the dough down and create the raised edge effect. Butter or oil the inside sides of the tart pan.
3 Bowls, Whisk, Fine Mesh Strainer, Fork, Rubber Spatula:
In a small bowl stir 3 egg yolks with a fork until homogenous.
In a medium bowl whisk together the 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1 1/3 cup of cake flour.
In a large bowl whisk 3 egg whites and 3 tbsp. water until large bubbles form, slowly add the 3/4 cup of sugar while whisking, keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Add beaten egg yolks and incorporate with a spatula.
Place the strainer over the large bowl and sift flour onto eggs. With the spatula stir the flour with lifting through the middle motions, until fully incorporated.
Using your spatula, transfer the dough into the tart pan. The tart pan should a little less than full. Hold the tart pan over your counter and drop it a few times to let bigger air bubbles escape from the dough. Place your smaller cake pan with the parchment paper stuck to the outside bottom in the middle of the dough and gently push down until the dough meets the top rim of the tart pan. (see photo above) The dough will slightly rise out of the pan while baking like a soufflé.
Bake your cake at 410°F for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is a light golden color and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Plate, Plater, Small Knife:
Once the cake has cooled you can gently cut around the small pan and remove the small pan and parchment paper. Now place one hand under the tart pan and gently push up on the removable bottom to push the cake out of the pan. Invert the cake with a plate and remove the pan bottom and paper. Set the cake on a cake plater.
Microwave or Stove, Small Bowl or Saucepan, Pastry Brush:
Heat the jam or jelly until runny and brush it all over the inside of the cake. This will keep the cake relatively dry from the fruit juices and adds extra flavor.
Arrange the strawberries in a tight pattern on the cake.
Stove, Small Bowl, Rubber Spatula, Saucepan, Tablespoon:
Mix 1 tbsp potato starch and 2 tbsp sugar with a couple of tablespoons of juice until a lump-free paste forms. Heat the rest of the juice in the saucepan until it boils, stir in paste, and boil for one minute longer. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for three minutes. With a spoon drizzle glaze over the strawberries, starting from the middle of the cake. Let the glazed cake cool for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Refrigerate the cake to keep it fresh. Serve with whipped cream. Since fresh berries are quite perishable, the cake should be eaten within 2-3 days.
If your tart pan is smaller (9 inch) a dough from 2 eggs might be sufficient, you have to decrease the other ingredients by a third too.
If the bottom of your pan is not removable, cover the edge with parchment too; or butter and flour it.
If you don’t have a second pan to set inside, a flat cake is just as yummy.
You can also use other juices, or water, or red tea, like hibiscus for the glaze.
You can also make tartlets with this dough, they bake in about 7-8 minutes. I invert them and cut a shallow hole with a serrated knife for the strawberries.