Think Christmas cake and no doubt a rich fruitcake will spring to mind. Should you fancy something a little lighter—but as much of a showstopper as the traditional holiday confection—try a Kurisumasu Keki, or Japanese Christmas cake. The only fruit you'll find is strawberries, plus a heaping of whipped cream wrapped between and all over a light-as-air sponge cake.
The cake is easy to make and to decorate as elaborately or as simply as you wish. Whichever you choose, however, the cake must always have a Santa Claus somewhere—otherwise, this would not be a traditional Christmas cake!
- For the Cake
- 1 tablespoon soft butter or non-stick spray
- 1/2 cup rice bran or sunflower oil
- 6 large eggs (separated)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (leveled)
- For the Meringue
- 6 egg whites (from the eggs above)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- For the Filling
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries (hulled and quartered)
- 4 cups heavy cream (cold)
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Christmas cake is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Make the Cake
Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Lightly grease or spray a 9 1/2-inch round cake tin, then line the bottom and sides with baking parchment with the paper on the sides standing 2 to 3 inches above the tin as this cake will rise very high. Set aside.
In a stand or electric hand mixer, whisk together the oil with the egg yolks and milk.
In a separate large baking bowl, lightly mix together the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the baking powder. Tip this mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until all incorporated.
In a scrupulously clean bowl, beat the egg whites, using a stand or electric hand mixer on medium speed until they turn slightly opaque.
Add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk. The eggs will start to go white and thick. With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining sugar and the eggs will now turn glossy and thicken even more after a few minutes. Finally, add the vanilla and continue to mix for a minute more.
Stir 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the cake batter then, slowly and carefully using a large metal spoon, fold in one-third more and, when incorporated, add the final third, again folding, not mixing so you do not lose the air from the egg whites.
Pour the batter into the lined cake pan, gently level the top with the back of the spoon, then lift the cake pan 6 inches from the countertop and carefully drop as this will release any large air bubbles from the cake to ensure an even rise.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 55 minutes, checking from time to time to make sure the cake is not browning too quickly; if it is, lower the heat slightly.
Check that the cake is cooked by inserting a fine metal skewer into the center on the tin; it should come out clean and if not, bake a while longer.
Leave the cake in the tin on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, remove the paper.
Decorate the Cake
Once the cake is completely cold, slice across horizontally into 3 even slices.
Whip 2 cups of heavy cream to medium to firm peaks (the cream should stand up nicely when the beaters are lifted out), taking care to not over whip and make the cream too thick and hard.
Cut the strawberry quarters into half and fold into the whipped cream.
Place the bottom layer of the cake onto a cake stand or plate and spread evenly with half of the strawberry and cream mixture. Place the middle layer on the top and repeat. Finish with the top layer, then place in the refrigerator to chill slightly.
Whip the remaining cream to firm peaks and using a palette knife, cover the cake in an even layer across the top and sides. The cream can either be smoothed out with the palette knife or left fluffy, as you wish. Decorate with strawberries and don’t forget Santa Claus.
Serve and enjoy!