My little Frankie-Rose was born in late November, in New Zealand, right when all the roses were in full bloom and the first summery fragrant strawberries were just beginning to ripen… so I had to make a cake that used both roses and fresh strawberries to celebrate her birth, and each year I make this cake for her birthday.

It’s a very easy yet absolutely delicious cake to make and one that could be made in place of a more traditional xmas cake as a xmas show stopper for the festive season.

The sponge is a buttery sponge with a light delicate crumb and with the added ground almonds it is moist and delicious.

For this cake and any cake that I make I always use unsalted butter, using salted butter would ruin the flavours of a cake, causing it to be way to salty, totally disrupting the delicate sweet salty balance.

It is for this reason that using unsalted butter in baking is ideal!  Unsalted butter can be used for any situation – but typically its ideal for sweet baking and cooking to avoid salt overpowering the flavour of the ingredients.
Salted butter on the other hand, is ideal for savoury cooking and baking. 
Mainland butter is ideal here in New Zealand, it is produced from grass fed cows and the butter its self is a rich yellow colour and has a perfect buttery flavour.
TIP: Use hard, cold butter for any pie crust that you are making. The flaky texture in a pie crust is achieved when cold pieces of butter get trapped between layers of dough, then melt during baking to create small air pockets. Butter plays a fundamental role in pastry making as it allows the pastry to be ‘waterproof’. Additionally, it adds crustiness and crumble to all dry pastries and brings softness and creaminess to risen doughs.
strawberries in a cardboard box on white wood table.
pistachio and strawberry cake on a plate with 3 layers of cream and jam with fresh strawberries on the top. A vase of flowers sits behind the cake.


For the cake 

260g unsalted mainland butter, really soft

225g plain spelt flour (or plain flour)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

115g finely ground, pistachios (or ground almonds)

4 large eggs

250g golden castor sugar

finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon

To decorate

350ml double cream

2 heaped tbsp of natural green yoghurt 

2 to 3 tablespoons of honey

6 tablespoons of strawberry jam

400g fresh strawberries, enough cut in half lengthways to cover the top of the cake and the rest sliced widthways

A dusting of unrefined icing sugar


Preheat your oven to 180C, line 3x 20cm loose bottom sandwich tins, with baking parchment.

Start by grinding your pistachios into a fine meal. To do this simply place them into a mini chopper, food processor or high powered blender and blitz until you have a quite fine nut meal. Do be careful not to go to far as its possible to tun your nuts into nut butter if you blend for too long. Alternatively, just measure out ground almonds if using, and set aside. 

In a free standing mixer, sieve in the flour and baking powder, then add all the other ingredients. Mix slowly at the beginning with the whisk attachment, then gradually tun up the speed as the mix starts to come together. Be careful not to over mix, you want a light cake. After a minute or two, no more, when the batter looks thoroughly combined, scrape into your prepared tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and risen, and the centre springs back after a gentle push. 

You can also test the cakes to see if they’re done by inserting a skewer or thin sharp knife into the middle and if it comes out clean then the cakes are done.

Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before carefully taking them out of their tins and placing on a cooling rack.

When the cakes are cold you can get on with making the honey cream.

Lightly whip the cream until very soft peaks form, drizzle in the honey and whisk again until incorporated, add the yoghurt and gently fold through, being very careful not to over mix or your cream will start to curdle and turn to butter. 

To decorate, if your cakes are very peaked you may wish to trim the tops so you have a nice flat surface, then carefully place one cake on your serving platter, spoon over 2 tbsp of jam, spread evenly over the base layer of cake, then add 1/3 of the cream, spread evenly over the jam. lay slices of strawberries over the cream so you have a single flat layer of berries. Next add another layer of cake and repeat the same thing with the jam, cream and berries. 

Finally lay on the third and final layer of sponge, top once again with the jam and then the last bit of cream. Then carefully poke the long strawberry halves into the top so that they are standing with the pointy sides on the top. When all the berries are placed onto the cake you can give the entire cake a light dusting with unrefined icing sugar as a final flourish. Serve right away with a cup of wonderfully fragrant herbal tea such a fresh pineapple sage, lemon balm or lemon verbena.