A pink cake for Sylvia

The award-winning food writer Eleanor Ford shows you how to give cakes a bit of extra zing

I developed this vanilla and raspberry cake when my daughter requested a sugar-pink cake for her fifth birthday. The kefir makes the sponge whisper-light and the raspberries stud it with pockets of jammy sharpness. A mound of fluffy icing was another prerequisite - here its sweetness is tempered by fresh fruit, which also stains it a suitably Barbie pink. The other trick for lightness in both the sponge and the icing is thorough beating.
Serves 12-16

  • 260g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 260g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240g kefir, at room temperature
  • 210g raspberries
  • 140g raspberries
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 540g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Edible flowers, more raspberries or sparkly pink decorations on sticks
1. Make sure all the ingredients, including the kefir, are at room temperature. Grease three round 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking paper. Heat the oven to 200C/180C/fan 400F.
3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, adding a spoonful of the flour if it starts to curdle. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour in three batches, alternating with the kefir, so you start and end with the flour. Stop the mixer after each addition when just combined.
4. Scrape into the tins and level. Scatter the raspberries over the top - no need to push them in as they will sink as it cooks. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden, springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out without any wet batter clinging to it.
5. Let the cakes sit in the tins for five minutes before turning out on a rack to cool. Meanwhile, make the icing.
6. Purée the raspberries then press through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. The butter should be soft but not melting. You can soften it further in an electric mixer at low speed. Add the raspberry purée and half the icing sugar and beat for three minutes. Add the remaining icing sugar and the vanilla extract and beat for another three minutes. The icing should be light and creamy but able to hold its shape. If it is too thick, beat in a dribble of water.
7. When the cakes are completely cool, spread with the icing, stacking as you go, then swirl the top and sides with a palette knife. Decorate with edible flowers, more raspberries or your choice of pink decorations on sticks. It is best eaten on the day it is made.

Take it in a floral direction by changing the vanilla for rose water, or you could try a few drops of liquorice extract.
A Whisper of Cardamom: Sweetly Spiced Recipes to Fall in Love With, by Eleanor Ford, is published by Murdoch Books, price £26

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