Want to knock the socks off someone with a special cake? Here you go!
110g (3½ oz) standard flour
Pinch of salt
3 medium (size 6) free-range eggs, at room temperature
125g (about 4½ caster (superfine granulated) sugar, plus extra for cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
300ml (about 10 fl oz) cream
Small piece vanilla pod, optional
300g (about 10 oz) raspberries
Icing (confectioner’s) sugar
Sugar-coated rose petals, optional
1 Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F)). Line bottom and sides of a deep 20cm (8”) cake tin with baking (parchment) paper.
2 Sift flour and salt together onto a piece of baking (parchment) paper. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk on low speed with a hand-held electric beater until they are frothy. Whisk in caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue whisking until mixture is pale and forms ribbons when you stop beating and lift up the beaters (the mixture will fall off the beater in a thick trail).
3 Sift flour mixture over top and carefully fold it into whipped eggs using a large spoon or rubber scraper, adding lemon zest; take care not to knock out the air. Turn mixture into tin.
4 Bake for 15–20 minutes in preheated oven, or until springy to the touch and just starting to pull away from the sides of the tin (it may take as much as 25 minutes, but it is better to keep it soft and moist). Cool for 5 minutes in tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack and peel off paper. Let sponge cool thoroughly before assembling.
5 Put cream in a bowl, split vanilla pod if using, and flick seeds into cream with the point of a knife. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and whip cream until holding its shape. Add raspberries to cream and using a large spoon stir together just until mixture is streaky. Cut sponge in three with a serrated bread knife and fill between layers with sweetened cream and raspberries. Dust top with icing sugar, then scatter rose petals on top. If sponge has not risen sufficiently to cut into three layers, cut it in two and use only as much cream as necessary in the filling.
This sponge is best eaten the day it is made, but if you must make it ahead, keep it refrigerated and put the rose petals on just before serving.
And, if you don’t have crystallised rose petals to hand, scatter the cake with fragrant red rose petals (just make sure they have not been sprayed; florists’ roses will not do unfortunately). Failing rose petals, top with a dusting of cocoa, or use more raspberries.