This strawberry-raspberry cake from Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson has a short ingredient list, and you can adapt it with different fruits, too.

By Bridget Hallinan
May 07, 2020
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Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Now that it’s May, peak strawberry season is fast-approaching, and we have the perfect dessert to use them in. Enter Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s simple strawberry-raspberry cake, which was inspired by an apple cake he had in Italy. “This sweet, tender cake is a version of one served to us by the Snaidero family in San Daniele, who restore Berkel prosciutto slicers, the finest (and most expensive) ones in the world,” he told Food & Wine.

The Frasca Food and Wine chef adapted the recipe to make it more spring-like—the end result is gorgeous, with bright strawberries and raspberries peaking out on top and a delicate dusting of powdered sugar to finish off. It comes together pretty quickly, too, considering that most of the recipe time is devoted to baking the cake and letting it cool. Find our key tips for making the dessert below, compiled from Mackinnon-Patterson’s recipe and the Food & Wine Test Kitchen.

Preheat the Oven and Prep the Pan First

First off, preheat the oven well in advance and have the pan lined, greased, and floured at the ready before you start the batter. That way, you can throw it in the oven as soon as it’s done. The recipe calls for you to line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, grease it with butter, and dust it with flour as well. Don’t skip these steps—you don’t want the tender cake to stick to the pan and tear. If it does, you can always turn it into a trifle, but this three-part prep is a good insurance policy to make sure the cake releases easily.

Switch It Up With Other Fruits

The inspiration for this cake was an apple cake, so apples would certainly work. Make sure you cut them thinly so that they don’t sink. You could also use other berries, as well as stone fruits—like the apples, you’ll want to slice the latter thinly. If you only have frozen berries, you can try those too. (Don’t thaw them before baking.)

Cream the Butter and Sugar Fully

You’ll notice that this cake has no chemical leaveners (e.g. baking soda or baking powder). Instead, it relies on the beaten eggs, as well as the creamed butter and sugar, to help it rise. So you want to beat the butter and sugar until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy, adding in air and helping the sugar dissolve into the butter. Don’t add the flour until it reaches that texture. 

Don’t Worry If You See a Crumb or Two on the Toothpick

When you pull the cake out of the oven and test it with a toothpick for doneness, you ideally want it to come out clean. However, if there are one or two crumbs on there, it’s no big deal as long as they’re not wet. If they are, the cake needs to bake for a little while longer.

Let It Cool Completely

When the cake is done baking, let it cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan, and then transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool completely for about an hour. Cutting into the hot cake right away will cause the steam to moisten and soften it, and melt any powdered sugar you’ve put on top, too. If the cake is allowed to cool first, it will have a better crumb.

Add a Finishing Touch

Wait to dust the powdered sugar on the cake until right before you serve it. You’ll only need a little bit—you can also try a little bit of mascarpone or whipped cream for an extra creamy touch. For even more berry goodness, stir together more cut-up strawberries with a bit of sugar to make a delicious berry salad to serve alongside. To complete the experience, Bobby Stuckey, co-founder of Frasca Food and Wine and Master Sommelier, likes to serve the cake with espresso. Grab a slice and a little cup, and you’ll have the perfect afternoon treat.

Stash Away Any Extra

If you have any leftovers, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge. You could also theoretically freeze the cake; just know that the berries won’t have quite the same texture when they thaw. (They’ll be more jammy, but still good.) To freeze, wrap the cake in plastic wrap, and then, wrap it in either an additional layer of foil or place it in a ziptop bag. That way, you can have cake on demand when the craving strikes.