- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9 x 5-inch (23 x 13 cm), 6-cup (1.5 litre) loaf pan and line with a strip of parchment paper, letting it hang over two sides.
- In a small pot, heat the milk with the butter until melted. Let cool.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale and doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. With the machine running on low speed, whisk in the dry ingredients alternating with the cooled milk mixture until smooth. Spread the mixture out in the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Unmould.
- Meanwhile, cut the stems off the strawberries, leaving a thin part of flesh attached. Set the stems aside. Slice the strawberries and set aside in a bowl until ready to serve the cake.
- In a pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute or until the sugar has dissolved. Off the heat, add the strawberry stems and basil. Cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup. Compost the stems and basil. Let cool (see note).
- In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cut off the ends of the cake. Slice the cake into 8 equal pieces (see note). Place the cake pieces on individual plates and drizzle with 2 tsp (10 ml) of the syrup. Garnish with the mascarpone cream and sliced strawberries. Garnish with small basil leaves, if desired.
The cake freezes well.
The syrup can be made in advance and will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For a great summer treat, grill the cake pieces, on an oiled grill preheated over medium-high heat, on one side only for 1 to 2 minutes.