As birthdays go, I think the Mad Professor has probably had better ones (at least the start, anyway). We all overslept and there was loads of shouting, jostling for bathroom space, yelling at the cat and stuffing down of toast (I did manage to write ’17’ in jam on his, at least…), with no time for pressie opening or even a quick round of the happy birthday song (we like the Disney version, complete with clapping. Only if nobody else can hear). We rushed out of the door to school still wrestling blazers, tucking in shirts and eating toast.
One the upside, he only had one class today and I was supposed to pick him up at 11am, but then my lovely ex-sister in law, who I don’t get to see very much any more, popped round with a card, and we got chatting and…
I forgot him.
On his birthday.
In torrential rain.
When I finally got to the school, the birthday boy looked like a drowned rat and appeared to have lost his happy birthday sparkle. He was darned miserable. He sat next to me and heaved an unhappy sigh, wiping the mist off his glasses as the rain water dripped off his nose.
Still, to cheer him up, I reminded him that it was Birthday Cake Privilege time. As you’ll know, at English Towers, the birthday person gets to choose their own birthday cake. And I have to make it, no matter what they choose (I draw the line at novelty cakes though – they can only choose flavours. I’m not making bloody rabbits and scenes from Star Wars).
The Prof chose a four tier jammy creamy vanilla flavoured cake. Raspberry jam, PROPER cream, and lots of it. Then he took his soggy self upstairs to change and console himself with a couple of games of shooting people until their heads explode. As you do.
Anyhoo, I set to work making a basic vanilla sponge. It’s easy peasy. Heavy on the vanilla as you really want the flavour to shine through:
The Mad Professor’s Four Tier Jammy Creamy Vanilla Birthday Cake
175g butter (room temp is best)
175g golden caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
175 self raising flour
For the filling/topping:
Large tub of double cream (not whipping cream)
Jar of nice raspberry jam
- So in the mixer, whizz up the butter until nice and soft, then add in the caster sugar and whisk until really soft, pale and fluffy.
- Break the eggs into a bowl, give them a quick mix with a fork, then dribble them into the mixture. Have your flour weighed out so if it starts to curdle, you can add a spoonful to bring it back together.
- Add in the vanilla and then gently stir in the flour.
- Blob half of the mixture into each buttered, lined medium cake tin (you can weigh them to get them exact if you can be arsed)
- Bake at 180/gas 4 for about 20 minutes. You want them just golden so they spring up in the middle when gently pressed.
- Tip them out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, carefully cut each cake in half to create two layers.
Whip the double cream (I say double rather than whipping cream because it has a bit more body – useful when you’re layering – whipping cream tends to flump out of the sides and the whole thing can collapse if you’re not careful), then start to assemble:
Place your first layer on your serving plate or stand, spread generously with raspberry jam, then dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of cream. Don’t push down as you add the next layer or you’ll get unwanted splurging (and nobody wants that). Continue to add each layer, adding jam and cream until you add the top layer and dollop on the remaining cream. I decorated with little white chocolate thingies, but was told that this was ‘too girly’ and to remove them immediately.
The smile was back.
Happy birthday Sam xxx