Brita cake
• Serves 10 to 12

| Cake
1¼ cups (175g) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (¾ stick or 80g) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups (300g) sugar (1/2 cup (100g)for sponge and 1 cup (200g) for the meringue)
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lemon, preferably organic, scrubbed
½ cup (120ml/g)whole milk
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

| Berries
2 pounds (900g) strawberries (or any mix of seasonal berries)
1⁄3 cup (65g) sugar
1 tablespoon Aperol or St. Germain (optional) — I used a few dashes bitters
1 cup (240ml) heavy (double) cream
8 ounces (227ml) crème fraiche
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
Confectioners’ (icing) sugar, for dusting

1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan. Press a piece of parchment paper large enough to go up the sides of the pan on all sides into the pan, running your hand across the bottom to adhere it.
2. Butter the bottom of the parchment.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. In a stand mixer on medium-high speed, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and ½ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and beat to combine well. Zest the lemon directly into the bowl and beat briefly to combine. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until combined, scraping once or twice.
5. Spread in the prepared pan and set aside. Wash and dry the bowl thoroughly, and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup sugar and beat on high speed until stiff and glossy. Beat in the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon on top of the cake batter, spreading almost to the edges. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meringue is beginning to turn golden and the cake is done. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out dry. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Lift the parchment by the corners and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
6. To make the berries: When getting ready to serve, hull and halve strawberries and toss with the sugar and Aperol, if using. Let sit until juicy, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the cream, crème fraîche, and vanilla paste in a clean mixer bowl and whip until softly mounding but holding its shape. Spread the cream on top of the cake, and top with the berries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
7. Serve immediately!

Brita cake