The unusual flavor combination of vanilla and balsamic vinegar is divine with this light spongecake.


Recipe and photos by my friend China Squirrel!

China squirrel hosted a spring fête in the garden of her new home
in the beautiful Blue Mountains, about 80 miles west of Sydney. The old kitchen table made the perfect shop counter for home- baked cakes, pretty vintage cups, mismatched plates, old books, fresh flowers, locally grown fruit, and handmade baskets.

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MAKES 2 CAKES

You will need:

2 ounces unsalted butter
3 eggs
3⁄4 cup superfine sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out
1⁄3 cup milk
11⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream

BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES:
8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, leaves set aside for decoration
11⁄2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
zest from 1⁄2 lemon, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 325oF. Prepare two 6 1⁄2-inch-deep round cake pans with butter or shortening and flour.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place eggs, sugar, and vanilla seeds into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for 7 to 8 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm.
  5. Add warm milk and butter to egg mixture, gently folding through. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together twice. Then sift again over cake mix and gently fold through.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared cake tins.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cakes springs back when touched.
  8. Remove cakes from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool. Allow cakes to cool completely.
  9. Combine powdered sugar and heavy cream in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip until stiff peaks form. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
  10. To make balsamic strawberries: Cut strawberries into thirds lengthwise. Place into a bowl and toss with sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt, and lemon zest.
  11. Cover the bowl and let stand for 30 minutes until the berries release their juices. Stir occasionally.
  12. To assemble: Place cooled cakes on serving plates. Spoon whipped cream on top of each cake.
  13. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with leftover juices. Decorate with fresh strawberry leaves.

TIP:

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The unusual flavor combination of vanilla and balsamic vinegar is divine with this light spongecake.

The unusual flavor combination of vanilla and balsamic vinegar is divine with this light spongecake.
Photography by China Squirrel

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