How do you take a cake and make it better?
Well, in this case, instead of making a plain vanilla Victoria sponge and serving it with whipped cream and fresh summer fruit, I put the fruit IN the cake. Game changer.

I make a lot of cakes (see the baking category for more recipes that include dairy-free and vegan options) and this is my most recent hack for getting even more flavour into the sponge itself. It makes very good eating, because the acid in the fruit works with the raising agent to give more lift and therefore a lighter crumb but also more moisture. I’ve chosen strawberries here but you could use raspberries or blueberries or a mix of all three. Two other switches to intensify the cake flavour: I add an egg yolk for richness, and switch out half the caster sugar for soft light brown which has a nutty, caramel note. Using brown sugar and adding the fruit puree gives the cake a lot of colour, as you can see from the pictures.

It is important that the fruit is not fridge cold, as it will curdle the mix when added, so make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.

I’ve put some cake baking masterclass tips at the bottom of this post.

This quantity makes 2 x 900g loaf tins or 2 x 23cm round cakes for sandwiching. You can halve the quantities to make just one loaf or one round, which can be sliced in half horizontally for filling.


340g unsalted butter, softened

170g caster sugar

170g soft light brown sugar

4 medium free-range eggs

2 egg yolks

1tsp vanilla paste

340g self-raising flour

1.5tsp bicarb

.75tsp fine sea salt

200g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and blitzed in a food processor or stick blender

200g fresh strawberries for serving

250g icing sugar

300ml double cream (optional)

Edible flowers, dried petals, freeze-dried raspberries etc to decorate (optional)


Line your chosen baking tins and preheat the oven to 170C.

In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla paste and then the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly with each addition.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the fruit puree for the icing.

Mix the dry ingredients and add slowly to the mixture, alternating each addition with a glug of strawberry puree.

Make sure the mix is well combined (scrape the sides and get right down to the bottom of the bowl, then divide the mix between the tins. Tap them gently to release any air bubbles and bake on the middle shelf for 45-55 minutes (you can use the ‘is it baked?’ tests explained below).

While the cake is cooling on a rack, make a glacé icing with the reserved fruit puree and icing sugar, whisking well until there are no lumps and it can hold its shape.

Slice half the remaining strawberries.

Whip the cream, if using, with a tablespoon of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla paste.

If you’ve made a loaf cake, simply drizzle the glacé icing over the cake and top with sliced strawberries. I would serve this with thick cream as part of an afternoon tea.

If you’ve made a round cake, sandwich the two cakes with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Top with glacé icing, sliced and whole fruit, flowers and sprinkles of whatever takes your fancy.

There are many ways to tell if a cake is cooked, using all of your senses (but also a toothpick or, if you have a fancy modern oven, a CO2 monitor (CO2 is a byproduct of the baking process, and when the cake is baked it will stop emitting the gas et voila, the alarm will let you know).

Start with a combination of time and temperature and adjust from there, depending on what it looks like (domed, light brown, starting to crack the surface), smells like (peak cake smells coming from the kitchen!), and then try the fingertip test (quickly open the oven door, pull the cake out and gently touch it in the middle with your forefinger. It should spring back to the touch). A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean, or with dry crumb. If there is wet cake mix on it, return the cake to the oven for a further 6-8 minutes and repeat the tests.

© Linda Galloway 2022