Helen Goh's star-spangled traybake cake

Star-spangled sponge traybake.
Star-spangled sponge traybake. Photo: William Meppem

A classic Victoria sponge baked in a tray forms the base for this American flag cake. While not quite 50 stars and 13 stripes, the cream-cheese icing with strawberries and blueberries, simulating the red, white and blue of the star-spangled banner, form a delicious Fourth of July offering.

Ingredients

60ml milk

1 tbsp lemon juice

250g self-raising flour

1¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, then left to soften at room temperature, plus 1 tbsp extra for greasing baking tin

250g caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

12-15 small strawberries, hulled, then thinly sliced lengthwise

30 blueberries

For the icing

220g cream cheese, at room temperature

120g icing sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

100ml whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175C fan-forced (190C conventional). Grease and line the base and sides of a rectangular baking tray (about 30cm x 22cm x 6cm) with butter and baking paper.

2. Combine the milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

4. Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a cake mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and creamy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping the bowl from time to time to ensure it is evenly mixed. Reduce speed to low and add the sifted, dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the lemon milk, and mix for just a few seconds between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the vanilla extract. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tray and place in oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

5. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place and beat until smooth and creamy (1-2 minutes). Add the icing sugar and lemon zest and beat until well incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla, then beat until the icing is smooth and forms firm waves.

6. Invert the cooled cake onto a large rectangular serving plate and use a small palette knife to spread the icing on top. To decorate in the style of the American flag, place a grid of blueberries (five rows and six columns) in the upper left-hand corner of the cake to simulate the stars. Then just create the stripes by positioning four or five rows of overlapping strawberry slices.