For the vanilla sponge cake
- Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees then grease and line 4 x 6 inch cake tins.
- Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Sift in the flour, add eggs and vanilla then mix (slowly at first) until just combined.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins then place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Depending on the oven they may need a few minutes more – check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool fully.
For the strawberry compote
- Place strawberries, sugar and lemon in a heavy base saucepan and let it come to a simmer. When it has reduced to almost half, remove from the heat and leave to cool.
For the Swiss meringue buttercream
- Add egg whites and sugar to a heatproof bowl and place over a bain-marie on a steady heat.
- When the sugar has fully dissolved (you can no longer feel it between your fingers) remove and using the balloon whisk whip to fluffy meringue peaks until the bowl is cool to the touch.
- Add the cubes of butter one at a time then whip on high until fully combined. It may look like it is curdling but it will come together and become silky smooth.
- Add vanilla and whisk on lowest setting to remove air bubbles.
How to assemble
- Level off each cake layer. Add a small amount of buttercream on the cake board and centre the first layer. Using a piping bag, begin at the centre, rotate the cake stand and work out towards the edge. Use a palette knife to smooth. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge to create a ‘dam’. Add 2/3 tablespoons of the cooled compote to the top. Add the next cake layer and repeat until all 4 layers are stacked.
- Add buttercream to the top and sides, smooth with a palette knife then scrape back to leave a smooth sharp surface. Once you are happy with the finish apply your chosen décor.