Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter a 25cm tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites to thick, stiff peaks and set aside.
Beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds until very pale, thick and creamy. Add the warm melted butter and sift on the flour, but do not stir yet. Now add a third of the egg whites and use a whisk to fold everything together gently but thoroughly. Fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Gently spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Whip the cream with the sugar. Mix the strawberry jam with the brandy, if using. Slice the sponge in half and spread the bottom with the jam and a thin layer of whipped cream. Add the top of the sponge and spread the top and sides with the remaining cream. Decorate with the strawberries.
From Adrian Richardson, ‘The Good Life’.