This beautiful dessert isn’t for beginners, but it’ll be the centre of attention at any meal or dinner party
- For the sponge layer:
- 2 medium eggs
- 60g (2oz) caster sugar
- 60g (2oz) plain flour
- 30g (1oz) butter, melted
- 2tbsp hot water
- For the mousse layer:
- 500g (1lb) strawberries
- 125g (4oz) caster sugar
- 11.7g sachet powdered gelatine
- 4tbsp orange juice
- 2tbsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 284ml carton double cream
- For the topping:
- 125-250g (4-8oz) strawberries, halved
- 4-5tbsp sieved strawberry jam
- Sprigs of mint, to decorate
- 20cm (8in) round spring-clip cake tin, lined with baking parchment
Set the oven to moderate, 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4).
Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick and frothy, and the beaters leave a trail when lifted out of the bowl. Gently fold in the flour, melted butter and water.
Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and level the surface. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 mins, until the cake is a light golden colour and feels firm to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the lined tin.
Start by slicing some strawberries for the side decoration. Choose the best slices and arrange them against the lining paper on top of the sponge layer. Purée the unused slices with the remaining strawberries and the caster sugar. Sprinkle the gelatine over the orange juice and leave it to soak for a few minutes, then melt it either in a microwave oven or over a pan of hot water. Stir melted gelatine into the strawberry mixture along with the Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
Whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then fold in the strawberry mixture. Pour the mixture over the sponge base, taking care not to move the strawberries around the sides of the cake tin. Level the surface and then chill the mousse gateau until it’s firm, preferably overnight.
Remove the gateau from the spring-clip tin and then carefully peel away the lining paper. Arrange halved strawberries on top and brush over sieved jam as a glaze. If the jam is very thick, then stir in a little boiling water to thin it. Decorate with mint.
Agar agar is a vegetarian alternative to gelatine. It's normally available from health food shops or in the home baking section of large supermarkets.