Strawberry Ripple Cake
Food has the unique ability to transport us; from a time and place to the warm embrace of someone dear to us. For me, the chocolate ripple cake reminds me of my mother's entertaining in the '70s. The texture of the softened biscuit and cream combination and the slightly dusty back-of-the-cupboard taste of the sherry she used (the same flavour that wafted up from the Christmas trifle) takes me straight back to the flurry of preparations that preceded such events. She would set the table days before, thereby rendering it completely unusable until after the party, in the belief that it was one more thing 'off the list'. Yes, entertaining in our house involved not one, but several lists, many furrowed brows and increasing volatility as the day drew near. So much so that I often asked myself why she put herself (and the rest of us) through such torment to entertain people she saw every week!
As pandemic limitations continue, our strawberry farmers put out an appeal for us to buy more strawberries; this twist on the chocolate ripple cake was my response to that request. Rather than using chocolate biscuits, I chose to use Speculoos (or Speculaas) a spiced biscuit of European origin and now undergoing a massive revival in social media land as Biscoff paste.
If you should find that your strawberries are not as soft and luscious as you might have hoped, I recommend that you macerate them for an hour or so with some icing sugar, a small slug of balsamic or other sweet vinegar and any other flavourings you fancy such as orange zest, cinnamon or ginger. Toss gently and leave at room temperature for an hour or so until the texture of the fruit alters. Drain the berries before using in the cake to avoid a mushy mixture.
Take your container of choice and the following ingredients:
2 or 3 packets of biscuits - I’ve used cinnamon spiced speculoos but you could choose chocolate ripple or even ginger nuts; if you like finely crush a few of the biscuits and add to the cream for a bit of crunch
300ml cream combined with 200g fresh ricotta, whipped and sweetened with icing sugar and vanilla
400-500g strawberries halved/sliced depending on the size, tossed with icing sugar if they need it.
Line your container with cling film, leaving overhang to fold over the top. Layer biscuits with the whipped ricotta cream and strawberries. Continue until you reach the top of the container, drizzle with any syrup left from the fruit and cover with the overlapping wrap. Push down gently on the top of the mixture and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, gently unfold the plastic wrap, invert and remove the bottom layers of wrap then invert again so the cream mixture is on the top. Decorate as the mood takes you - icing sugar, cocoa or fruit…enjoy