Raspberry bitters sponge cake

Glaze or no glaze, just make this cake.
Glaze or no glaze, just make this cake. Photo: William Meppem

The ingredients for Angostura Bitters are a closely guarded secret. However, at least some of the spices are known, and I wanted to amplify their aromatic, botanical flavours here in this cake's filling. The technique I've used for the cake base is usually associated with a traditional genoise sponge, but the extra butter makes it denser and richer – almost halfway to a pound cake.

Ingredients

For the filling

200g fresh raspberries

2 tbsp Angostura Bitters

350ml double cream

100g mascarpone cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp icing sugar

For the cake

250g unsalted butter, cut into large cubes

peel from 1 orange

1 cinnamon quill

seeds from ½ vanilla pod

1 tsp anise seeds

6 whole cloves

3 large eggs at room temperature

225g caster sugar

140g plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

⅛ tsp salt

For the glaze

100g raspberries, plus a few extra for garnish

160g icing sugar

1 tbsp glucose syrup

1 tbsp Angostura Bitters

Method

1. Begin preparing for the filling by placing the raspberries and bitters together in a small bowl. Allow to macerate for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 190C (175C fan-forced) and line a 23cm cake tin with baking paper. Place the butter, orange peel, cinnamon, vanilla, anise seeds and cloves in a small saucepan over low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from heat and leave to infuse until just lukewarm.

3. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until thick and pale (about 5 minutes). In the meantime, use a fine sieve to strain the butter mixture, discarding the spices, and set aside.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then sift once more over the thickened egg mixture. Fold gently with a rubber spatula, and when almost – but not completely – incorporated, slowly dribble the melted butter down the side of the bowl. Gently fold in the butter until fully incorporated, then scrape the batter into the cake tin.

5. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

6. For the glaze, place all the ingredients together in the food processor, blitz, then use a sieve to remove seeds. Store in the fridge until needed.

7. For the filling, whisk the cream, mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.

8. Slice the cake horizontally into two even layers, placing the bottom half on a cake plate. Cover the sponge with the macerated raspberries. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream mixture over the raspberries, then top with the other sponge half. Spoon the glaze on top, then pile the extra raspberries onto the centre of the cake.

Tip: You could do away with the filling and the glaze and just serve the cake plain, with berries and cream on the side. Whatever you do, just make this cake.