Fresh strawberry Victoria sandwich

Sometimes simple really is the best.

Don’t get my wrong, I love making trashy and over the top desserts with layers of chocolate and caramel and peanut butter, rich and decadent and delicious – but there will always be a place in my heart for a simple, classic sponge cake.

Inspired by a punnet of strawberries sat in my fridge, I decided to go back to basics with a Victoria sandwich, filled with jam, buttercream and fresh strawberries.

Although I did get one comment of ‘what made you decide to make just a sponge cake’, most people loved it, me included.

Simple, to the point, fresh and tasty – perfect for elevenses, afternoon tea, or just because!

Fresh strawberry Victoria sponge

  • 115g butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

  • 30g butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 3-4 large strawberries, diced

Beat the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes, or until really light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla – add a spoonful of the flour if it’s starting to curdle. Sift together the flour and baking powder then fold into the cake batter. Divide between two greased and lined 6″ tins, then bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

For the filling, beat the butter and icing sugar together until well combined, then add the milk and continue to beat until light and airy. Spread a layer of jam on top of one of the sponges, then scatter the diced strawberries on top. Spread the buttercream onto the underneath of the other cake layer, then place this on top. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and serve with a cup of tea!

Blueberry autumn spice cake

When I made my blueberry curd last month, not only was it perfect for the October Tea Time Treats challenge of jams, curds and chutneys, but I also knew it would come in handy for the Best of British blogging challenge, which for October/November is all about Dorset.

Half of my family are from Dorset, and I went to uni in Bournemouth, so I know the area pretty well, but it was actually at a food festival in Plymouth where I discovered my favourite Dorset ingredient – blueberries!

The Trehane family (aka the Dorset Blueberry Company) have a blueberry farm just outside of Ferndown, and as well as selling plants and fruit have a fantastic range of bakery products – I’ve sampled the shortbread, flapjack and lemon tart, and all are fabulous!

I should probably point out that I haven’t been paid to say all this, I really am just a fan! Although sadly the blueberries in this recipe aren’t from the Trehane farm, the recipe is definitely inspired by them.

As we’re well out of summer now, I gave a light sponge cake, studded with juicy blueberries, a bit of an Autumn twist, by adding a spoonful of pumpkin pie spice, which wasn’t overwhelming but complimented the fruit nicely.

The filling is a layer of my blueberry curd, and a layer of blueberry curd buttercream – I couldn’t resist cramming in as much blueberry as possible!

Blueberry autumn spice cake

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 100g blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 6 tbsp blueberry curd
  • 50g butter
  • 75g icing sugar

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour and pumpkin pie spice, then gently fold into the mixture with the blueberries. Divide the mixture between two 7″ sandwich tins, and bake at 170 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden.

While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream by beating the butter with the icing sugar, then stirring in half the blueberry curd. Spread a layer of buttercream on top of one cake, and a layer of blueberry curd on the underneath of the other, then sandwich together. Cut into slices and serve!

The Dorset themed best of British challenge, sponsored by New World Appliances, is being hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. There’s a £50 Amazon voucher up for grabs for one lucky entrant this month, but the deadline is tomorrow so you better be quick!

Coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake

With the gorgeous weather we’ve had this past week, baking with winter flavours has been out – bright, light, summery baking was needed to see in the spring.

This coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake fits the bill perfectly with two of my favourite fresh flavours combined in a simple but tasty cake.

The only downside of this cake was that I went a little over the top with the filling – after a 20 minute drive to work it had all spilled out the sides and needed quite a bit of a tidy before it was fit to be seen!

Another reason I loved this cake was that I got to use my new cake plate and dome that I was given for my birthday for the first time  - finally I can present my baking in something slightly nicer than a tupperware tub!

Coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake (my own recipe)

Cuts into 8 big slices

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon curd (I made mine following the Pink Whisk’s recipe)
  • 150ml double cream

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the lime zest and juice and coconut. Sift in the flour and baking powder and lightly fold into the mixture. Divide between two greased and lined 8″ round cake tins, and bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until risen and golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool, then spread the lemon curd on top of one half. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, then spread on top of the lemon curd. Top with the second sponge, then dust with icing sugar to serve.

Battenburg cake

I’ve been wanting to make a battenburg cake for a while, mainly to see if it’s really as difficult as the contestants on the Great British Bake Off made it look.

I wanted to keep it traditional though, so I took Mary Berry’s basic recipe but got rid of the coffee and walnuts and added red food colouring for the colour contrast.

It didn’t turn out quite as perfect as I would have liked – my baking paper tin divider fell over while cooking so the sponges weren’t the same size, and when sliced the cake revealed slightly mismatching rectangles rather than perfect squares…

I also didn’t have pink colouring so used red instead, and ended up with an orange and white checked cake, although it did produce a good colour contrast.

Still, it tasted how a Battenburg should, and that’s what really matters, right?!

Battenburg cake (adapted from the Great British Bake Off – How to Bake):

Serves about 8

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tsp pink or red food colouring
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
  • 250g golden marzipan

Start by preparing an 8×8″ square baking tin, by folding a piece of baking paper, cut to fit the width of the tin, to create a divider, like so:

Mary uses the all in one method for this sponge, but I’m not a fan, so I creamed the butter and sugar together, before beating in the eggs and vanilla, then folding in the flour and ground almonds. Divide the mixture between two bowls (I weighed it for accuracy but you can probably do it by eye) then add 1tbsp milk and 1 tsp red food colouring to one bowl, and 1tbsp + 1tsp milk to the other bowl. make sure both mixtures are well combined, then spread into each side of the prepared tin.

Bake at then leave to cool. When the cakes are cool, remove from the tin. If you’re lucky you’ll have perfectly equal sized sponges, but if not, trim them to the same width and cut each in half, so you have four long rectangles of sponge.

Roll out the marzipan to the width of the sponges and long enough to wrap around them as a block. brush a strip of warmed apricot jam onto the marzipan, then place two fingers of sponge – making sure you have one of each colour.

Brush these with more jam, then place the other two sponges on top, white on top of red and red on top of white. Brush the whole thing with the remaining jam, then roll to cover with the marzipan.

Trim any overhanging marzipan along the length of the cake, then slice each end so it looks neat. If you want to get fancy, pinch together the marzipan along the top edges – I tried this but it didn’t really work… Cut into slices and eat!

Baked berry sponge pudding

After all the rich, chocolatey excess of Christmas, I was desperately craving something fruity.

I also had some small foil pudding basins that I never quite got around to using for Christmas pudding, so I decided a fruity steamed pudding was the way to go.

I’ve never attempted a steamed pudding before, and I was quite looking forward to the challenge, but as luck would have it the recipe I decided to use as a base called for oven baking anyway – maybe next time!

I made two small (1lb or 500ml) puddings from this recipe, and they turned out really moist and flavourful, a perfect fruity winter pudding!

Baked berry puddings (adapted from BBC Good Food)

  • 200g mixed berries (I used frozen)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 85g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tbsp orange curd (zest of an orange would be fine)
  • 140g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder

Put 25g of the berries in the bottom of each pudding basin, and sprinkle 1 tbsp caster sugar over each.

Beat together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time. Fold in half the flour and baking powder followed by half of the milk and orange curd, then fold in the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.

Use about 2/3 of the mixture to divide between the two puddings, spreading on top of the berries. Sprinkle the rest of the berries on top, then cover with the rest of the cake mix. Bake for an hour at 180 degrees, or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine rose rather well, making them a bit hard to turn upside down!

Serve warm with custard, cream or ice cream.