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Lancashire Courting Cake

Lancashire Courting Cake: A Delightful and Elegant Dessert

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Lancashire Courting Cake is a traditional British cake known for its simplicity and elegance. Often served as a symbol of love and affection, this cake features a tender, buttery sponge layered with fresh strawberries and creamy mascarpone. It’s perfect for celebrations or a cozy afternoon tea.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature

For the Garnish:

  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups strawberries, sliced

Instructions

1. Prepare the Cake Batter

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, beat the unsalted butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add Eggs and Vanilla: Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

2. Bake the Cakes

  1. Divide Batter: Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with a spatula.
  2. Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. Cool: Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the Garnish

  1. Whip Cream: In a large mixing bowl, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, and vanilla extract. Whip until stiff peaks form. This mixture will be used to layer and top the cake.

4. Assemble the Cake

  1. Layer the Cake: Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread a generous amount of the whipped cream mixture over the top, then arrange a layer of sliced strawberries on top of the cream.
  2. Add Second Layer: Place the second cake layer on top of the strawberries. Spread the remaining whipped cream mixture over the top and sides of the cake.
  3. Garnish with Strawberries: Arrange the remaining sliced strawberries on top of the cake in a decorative pattern.

5. Serve

  1. Chill and Serve: For best results, refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Cook’s Tips and Variations

Tips:

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. This helps create a smoother batter and a more evenly baked cake.
  • Whip Carefully: When whipping the cream and mascarpone mixture, be careful not to overbeat, as it can turn grainy. Stop whipping as soon as stiff peaks form.

Variations:

  1. Fruit Variations: While strawberries are traditional, you can use other berries like raspberries, blueberries, or a mix of berries for a different flavor profile.
  2. Flavored Cream: Add a hint of lemon zest or a splash of liqueur to the whipped cream mixture for an extra layer of flavor.
  3. Simple Syrup: For an extra moist cake, brush the cake layers with a simple syrup made from equal parts sugar and water, optionally flavored with vanilla or citrus, before adding the whipped cream and strawberries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I make Lancashire Courting Cake ahead of time?

A: Yes, you can bake the cake layers up to 2 days in advance. Store them tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. Assemble the cake with the whipped cream and strawberries on the day you plan to serve it for the best freshness.

Q: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The cake is best enjoyed fresh, as the whipped cream and strawberries can soften the cake layers over time.

Q: Can I freeze Lancashire Courting Cake?

A: It’s best to freeze the cake layers separately before assembling the cake. Wrap the cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before assembling with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.

Q: What can I use instead of mascarpone cheese?

A: If you can’t find mascarpone, you can use cream cheese or a mixture of cream cheese and heavy cream as a substitute.

Lancashire Courting Cake is a beautiful and delicious dessert that’s perfect for expressing love and affection. Its tender, buttery sponge, creamy mascarpone, and fresh strawberries make it a delightful treat for any occasion. Whether you’re celebrating a special event or enjoying a cozy afternoon tea, this cake is sure to impress. Follow these simple steps to create a stunning and tasty cake that will be the star of any gathering. Enjoy the process of baking and sharing this traditional British delight with your loved ones!

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