The food equivalent of a hug has got to be a crumpet. My old landlady used to eat crumpets smothered in blueberry jam and blue cheese and I like them when the butter’s melted so much that it starts to leak out of the bottom of the flat side. I even once tried buttering the crumpet on the other side but it was strangely wrong. Crumpets always remind me of Christmases as a child when the tea trolley would be wheeled up to the drawing room, what felt like, seconds after we’d finished the roast turkey. I also love a fondant fancy. I tried to make one once and it was actually quite hard.
I love afternoon tea in any capacity but the Queen of Afternoon Tea has got to be the Victoria Sponge. They epitomise the kind of WI Summer Fetes I aim to avoid and secretly want to live in. They remind me of doilies and Earl Grey tea and flowers cut from the garden. People have debated endlessly as to whether you put raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers, whether you can add fresh cream or god forbid, other fruit jam. The WI, and they should know, say raspberry jam and that’s the way I like it. Although I would quite like the idea of one filled with gooseberry and elderflower jam as I love the tartness of gooseberries.
I have been feeling extraordinarily low recently and baking a cake or fixating on making jam has always had the ability to make me feel better and so here, well below, is my recipe for Victoria Sponge for those days when it’s all a bit too much.
I have always followed this recipe, I’ve named it after me but I don’t think I invented it, and it leaps up and out of the pan like a massive scone. I hate seeing a flat Victoria Sponge, I always wonder if that person is rationing eggs circa 1942 or if they don’t like me another to bother making a cake that looks anything more than a couple of roof tiles! It’s super easy and that’s what you want on a sad day.
Eleanor’s Victoria Sponge
– weigh 4 eggs in their shells.
- weigh out the same amount of self raising flour, caster sugar and butter.
- you can use marge but it’s never quite the same and the freer ranging and fresher the egg, the more yellow your cake will be
- you will also need vanilla extract and raspberry jam and icing sugar for the decorating later.
- preheat the oven to 180 c and line 2 round sandwich tins
– Cream the butter and the sugar together. This bit is the most important for getting the perfect cake. Don’t just accept it that they look creamed. Keep mixing with an electric whisk until the mixture is bright white. This will mean that they’re perfectly fused ready for the cooking!
– In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add to the creamed sugar and butter and mix together well.
– Add a large dessertspoon of vanilla extract and mix.
– Add half of the flour and fold into the mixture with a spatula. Fold the second half into the mixture without knocking out too much air.
– Pour mixture into the tins and put in the oven for 20 minutes (checking and taking out when golden and risen)
– When cooled, spread raspberry jam between both sides of the cake and sandwich together. Dust the cake with icing sugar.