Believe it or not, the last time I made this cake was at least 20 years ago.
I'll never forget the moment I unlocked the spring form pan and the cake slowly collapsed right before my eyes. It was a total disaster. Lory, my accomplice of mishaps, certainly remembers as clearly as I do. All I have to say is "strawberry cake" and it will trigger a big fat 15 minute laugh, with no refrain to tears and sore cheek muscles. It's one of those stories that remain in the family, even if there's really no story, it's just the whole thing about it that makes it the tale of the strawberry cake.
20 years later.
My 2nd attempt.
This time the cake didn't collapse but the taste was different from mom's. She must have adapted the recipe because the one I remember was less sweet and without the chocolate finish on top, the sponge wasn't so soggy either. There were a couple of things I needed to change to make it more mom's strawberry cake and less Carol Bink's Neapolitan Gateau.
Mom's adaptions are not noted on her recipe book. I know I won't stop making this cake until I get it right.
The result is delicious. I'm still far from figuring out mom's secret touch but I think I'll leave it that way.
Here's the original Carol Bink's Neapolitan Gateau from my mother's recipe book. My adaption is right below. You choose which one you prefer.
For the base, I used 2 cups of regular tea biscuits, 1 heap tablespoon of good quality cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of melted butter.
For the strawberry custard, I omitted the addition of the eggs both yolks and meringue. I simply made a strawberry puree, added 3 tablespoons of sugar (because I found some very sweet strawberries that didn't need the addition of too much sugar, otherwise you can use the amount from the recipe above), whipped cream and gelatin powder.
I soaked the sponge with milk. I also tried it with a lemon juice syrup (dissolve and reduce over low heat 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of lemon juice). I don't mind the liqueur either but if you have kids in the family the other two options are better.
For the rest, I followed the recipe above.
200 gr flour
170 gr sugar
Beat the egg whites with sugar for 20 minutes, using an electric mixer. Add egg yolks and beat well, then add flour. Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 40 minutes.