Happy birthday to me!
So it turns out that today, this little website is seven years old! Imagine – seven years of blathering, recipes, mad teenagers (well, they weren’t even teenagers when I started), silly stuff, holidays, giggles, beaches, family, chicken-with-lemon-up-the-bum, the odd sad bit, cake, friends, Ireland, cocktails, England, embarrassing waxing incidents, and much more!
If you’ve been with me for the journey, I thank you for the bottom of my bottom for stopping by and reading my waffle, and if you’re new, thank you just as much and I hope this will be the first visit of many.
To celebrate, I baked a cake. Well, you have to don’t you. This is a special cake, because you know that baking ONLY works when you put your heart and soul into it, and if you’re not in the mood, nothing rises or turns out right. This cake contained beautiful, fresh Buckinghamshire duck eggs from just down the road, and jam made today with raspberries picked by my Dad from his garden. With that much love, it was bound to turn out well.
Victoria sponge with home made raspberry jam and chantilly cream
For the home made jam:
This jam is quick and easy. It won’t last a massive amount of time, but it’s handy if you want to make small quantities. You will need:
Raspberries (I had a large bowlful from my Dad’s garden – about 600g)
The same amount of sugar – I used half jam sugar and half granulated, but you can use all granulated, it will just be a bit runnier.
Weigh out the raspberries, then pop them in a large saucepan. Weigh out the sugars so they come to the same weight as the raspberries, then pop that into the saucepan too. Start on a low heat. Stir until the sugar has melted and there’s no gritty feeling at the bottom of the saucepan, then crank up the heat and boil vigorously for about eight to ten minutes. Watch out for boiling hot flying jam lava.
Do the little test when you put a teaspoonful on a cold saucer and see if it crinkles up when you push your finger through it. If so, it’s fine. If you don’t use it all, save the rest in a sterilised jam jar (here’s a link to my friend Mammy’s advice on sterilising jars) in the fridge and use it up within two or three weeks.
For the vanilla sponge:
I used duck eggs (they make beautiful, moist, rich sponges and hey, it’s a special occasion), but hens eggs are fine too. Make sure they’re large and free range. Weigh the eggs in their shells, then use the same amount of butter, sugar and self-raising flour.
So, you’ll need:
Butter, room temperature
Caster sugar (I used golden)
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Self-raising flour, sifted
2-3 tbsp milk
Whisk the butter and sugar with an electric whisk (or by hand if you’re feeling beefy) until it’s soft and pale and fluffy.
Break the eggs into a bowl and give them a quick mix with a fork just to break them up. I add the vanilla in with the eggs too, then little by little whisk those in to the butter and sugar.
Have the flour weighed out ready so if it starts to curdle a bit you can add a spoonful in, otherwise just stir it in after you’ve mixed in all the eggs.
Add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture a bit, then divide it between two buttered medium cake tins and bake at 180/gas 4 for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Turn the cakes out onto a rack and leave them to cool completely.
For the chantilly cream:
1 tub double cream
2 or 3 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whip the cream in a food processor or with a whisk until it’s just soft and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar (sifted) and the vanilla extract and whip lightly again to combine.
To construct the Victoria sponge:
Place one cake on a flat surface and spread generously with your raspberry jam, then dollop on the cream. I always make loads and cover the top cake too, but if you want, just pop all the cream in the middle.
Now place your second cake GENTLY upon the first. Either add more cream (and maybe a few strawberries), or just shake a little icing sugar artily over the top.
Now if you’d like to sing a round of Happy Birthday, I’d be honoured…