For months I had wanted to make a really big, luxurious cake – one that, if I was a lady who lunched, I would have positioned on an elegant cake stand when my friends visited for afternoon cocktails. Sadly my life is not an endless succession of tea parties, and the moments I have to enjoy a proper sit-down cake-fest are limited and few. Making a proper Victoria sponge was something I had saved up as a ‘treat for the future’, when I had a few days off. Which would mean that I enjoyed every single crumb.
I used Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe, bouffed up with extra vanilla. This produced a generous, sexy cake, its two ample vanilla scented sponges voluptuously sandwiched together with a soft pillow of whipped cream and tangy raspberry jam. Oh yes. This was a cake that whispered ‘come hither’ from across the room. It tasted like the very best of British, but with its starchy tea room undertones flung usunder in a raunchy celebration of gorgeous gluttony, cream, vanilla and tart raspberry.
Would you just look at it, flaunting itself:
Can you hear it calling you?
Phwoar…you naughty thing:
Champing at the bit to make this? I’m actually drooling while writing…
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe, found in the River Cottage Family Cookbook
To make a 20cm cake
You will need:
4 free range organic eggs
Organic butter (I always use salted – it’s just my preference)
Fairtrade caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
A little milk, if needed
Good jam (raspberry) – about 4 tablespoons
200ml (small pot) organic whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form, not too stiff
Set the oven to 180C. Line your 2 cake tins with baking parchment. Stand your eggs on the scales and weigh them – make a note of the total weight. Weigh out the same amount of butter, then using a handheld mixer or the back of a wooden spoon, beat it until very soft. Weigh out the same amount of sugar, and add to the butter a third at a time, blending together until the mixture becomes fluffy.
Weigh out the flour, add a pinch of salt, and set aside. Break one of the eggs into the butter mixture and beat quite hard until completely blended in. Add the other eggs in the same way, one at a time. Sift in a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg – this will help stop the mixture from curdling. Add the vanilla extract. Set a sieve over the mixing bowl and tip the flour into it – shake it all gently into the bowl. Using a tablespoon, fold the flour into the mixture, taking care not to knock out all the air.
Test the consistency of the mixture – if it sticks to the back of a spoon, add a tablespoon or two of milk to ease up the mixture a little. Spoon the mixture equally into the two prepared tins, then smooth the tops with a knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean. When you take each tin out of the oven, hold it 30cm above a hard surface and drop it straight down – this will release the air bubbles in the cake, and you’ll see that on the surface some of the bubbles on the surface will have broken. Essential to stop your cake sinking in the middle.
Leave the cakes to cool then loosen and turn out onto a rack. When completely cool, turn one of the cakes upside down so that the flat surface is uppermost and place it on a serving plate. Spread the jam over it, add the whipped cream on top, then gently sit the other cake on top. Sprinkle a little caster sugar or icing sugar over the top.
You won’t be able to eat just the one slice…I think I had three in a row, then more for dinner…
Heart be still!