Sunday, 10 May 2009

Part One: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Or so the song goes anyway. This weekend I’ve been trying to bake my cares away. With a certain amount of success it has to be said. There is an amount of satisfaction to be derived from the creation of things for others to eat, especially when one’s appetite is absent without leave as mine is at present. That said, I’ve done an admiral job of polishing off two slices of cake this morning – only cause my antibiotics must be taken with food you understand.

My Victoria Sandwich cake is a Nigella recipe, and as a rule I fill it with Tiptree strawberry jam. I fell in love with this brand (well they stole my wholehearted affection from Bonne Maman) on discovery of their Victoria Plum conserve which is amazing. Sadly because Tiptree will only make their conserves with what is in season, until such time as we have a relatively dry summer (seriously powers that be, I’m asking here!) I’m out of luck. Until that time strawberry fills the hole, raspberry is not so good on account of the pips, but bramble jelly works especially well with cream scones. Please excuse the tangent. Jam is important to me, and I think something I’m going to conquer, having mastered the art of pastry *cough* well, most of the time anyway.

So the cake, well my Guides loved it – we have a tradition of Promise cakes that I blatantly stole from my Brown Owl, so promise ceremonies are much hoped for. Last term heralded no less than 8 promises, and we are waiting on another new member, with much whispering in the back of “cake! Cake!” And that’s just the leaders.

Anyway, so Nigella’s recipe for a Victoria Sandwhich is as she promises, easy. It can be made in the food processor, or as I choose with a hand blender (less washing up that way). And far from my memories of endless creaming of butter and sugar that come from having a sadist of a Home Economics teacher it’s a case of chuck it all in and bake. Wham, Bam thank you Ma’am. Or something along those lines.

For a two layer cake (2 x 21cm, 5cm cake tins)

220g self raising flour (I do bend to tradition and sift the flours and baking powder)
25g cornflour
2 tsps baking powder
225g butter
2 – 4 tblsps milk (Nigella says to use full fat, but with all that butter I’ve never noticed a problem with the milk being skimmed)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (if you plan ahead and have vanilla caster sugar – which I’ve just used up – to hand, leave this out)
225g caster sugar (I picked up the wrong packet and used light brown soft sugar yesterday, it affected the colour of the cake but nothing else) plus extra to dust over the top.

I beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale and creamy then add the eggs and flours, and finally the milk until I get a soft batter. I whisk using a hand blender on low and remember to scrape my bowl down on a regular basis.

The cake gets baked for half an hour at 220° in two tins, or if like me you’ve lost one of your sandwich pans (where? I don’t know, I swear our cupboard eats bakeware) then in two batches, ad cool completely on a wire tray.

When cool sandwich together with jam, or for more discerning audiences that Guides, jam and whipped cream, or whipped sweetened mascarpone. Simple, the first thing I ‘learnt’ to make at school, and I am still doing so 21 years later when my Twilight DVD skips for no reason and I'm home alone on a Saturday night.
Oh and by the way has anyone else tried Nigella's Basic bread recipe from How to Eat? Pages 31 - 32. It needs at least double the amount of yeast she suggests and less kneading? Am I right? All contributions and suggestions gratefully received.


Jules said...

Haven't tried the Nigella bread recipe, so can't help with that but I'm also recently converted to Tiptree jams. I'm currently addicted to their orange & tangerine marmalade.

Pen said...

They are brilliant aren't they, I'm not a marmalade fan, and still think that over bara brith may just be heaven sent!


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