Japanese sponge cakes in general have a lighter and softer texture than those I find in Australia, and possibly other Western countries. The texture is almost like my Cotton Cheesecake. The most popular sponge cake in Japan is by far the Strawberry Sponge Cake, aka Strawberry Shortcake.

Ingredients :

Sponge Cake

• 125g/4.4oz all-purpose flour sifted 3 times

• 100g/3.5oz sugar 

• 4 large eggs , yolks and whites separated 

• 60g/2.1oz butter , melted

• Butter and flour to coat inside the cake pan

Decoration:

• 18 strawberries (mid-size)

• 400ml/0.8pt cream for whipping 

• 10g/0.4oz sugar

Syrup :

• 40ml/1.4oz water

• 10g/0.4oz sugar

Instructions:

• Pre-heat oven to 180°C/356°F.

• Coat the inside of an 18cm/7″ cake tin  with butter, dust with flour, then shake off the excess flour.

• Put the egg yolks in a bowl, add ⅔ of the sugar and beat the egg yolks until they become whitish and thick. Draw a ribbon with the whisk and if the ribbon disappears slowly , it is ready.

• In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites. When the small bubbles form and the volume of the egg white doubles, add the remaining sugar in 2-3 batches and beat further to make meringue.

• When the meringue becomes firm and it can form a peak when you lift the whisk , it is ready.

• Put the flour through the sifter and add to the beaten egg yolk. Fold the batter with a spatula.

• Transfer ⅓ of the meringue to the batter and mix with a whisk until the batter becomes smooth.

• Add the remaining meringue to the batter in 2-3 batches and fold.

• Pour the melted butter into the batter and fold several times. It’s OK even if the butter is not completely mixed.

• Pour the batter into the cake tin. Drop the tin onto the work bench to settle the batter in the tin.

• Cook in the oven at 180°C/356°F for 25 minutes. Insert a thin bamboo skewer in the centre of the cake to see if the skewer comes out dry. If the skewer is a bit wet, cook further 5 minutes.

• Take the tin out of the oven and drop the tin onto the workbench a couple of times to detach the cake from the tin. Remove the cake from the tin and place it on a rack, upside down (bottom side up). Let it cool completely.

Decorating the cake :

• If making syrup, put the Syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. When the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat off. Let it cool.

• Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Wipe the strawberries with a wet kitchen paper, remove the stems and halve 10 strawberries.

• Leave the sponge cake upside down as is and slice it horizontally in half , remove the top half and place it next to the bottom half of the cake, cut side up.

• Using a brush, coat the cut surface of the two sponge cakes with the syrup gently.

• Drop about 3 heaped tablespoons of the whipped cream on the bottom half of the sliced cake and spread it to cover the entire surface. Fill the surface with the halved strawberries, without a gap as much as possible.

• Drop about 4 heaped tablespoons of the whipped cream on and spread it to cover the strawberries and the round edge.

• Place the top half of the cake on it, syrup side down. Gently press down, making sure the top and bottom cakes are aligned. Fill the gap around the strawberry filling on the side with whipped cream.

• (Optional) thinly coat the top and the side of the cake with whipped cream. It is OK not to completely cover the sponge. Leave the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.

• Using a cake spatula or a long flat spatula, fully cover the top and the side of the cake with the remaining whipped cream, leaving some (about minimum of 4-5 tablespoons) for piping.

• Put the remaining cream in a piping bag with a round nozzle. Squeeze out the cream to make a mound of cream in 8 positions around the edge of the surface. Place a strawberry on each mound.

Recipe Notes:

1. My cake is not too sweet. If you prefer it sweeter, increase the quantity of sugar up to 125g / 4.4oz.

2. It is important to use very fresh eggs. Using old eggs is likely to result in a flat sponge cake.

3. My 18 strawberries weighed about 450g/1lb. I used halved strawberries as fillings but if you slice them, you can reduce the number of strawberries