I thought it would be a bit mean to throw a casual mention of my Jubilee cake into my last post without revealing further details, so here they are…
As I said, it was really just a twist on the classic Victoria sponge recipe – and a word of warning here, I learned to bake with my Mum and still approach it in a fairly old fashioned way, so my weights will be in ounces, I just don’t work with grams!
I started by beating 6oz of caster sugar with 6oz of butter (kept out of the fridge to make it soft). Of course I cheated and used an electric whisk but the good old fashioned wooden spoon and a bit of elbow grease method would be fine.
Then in went 6oz sifted self raising flour with 1tsp of baking powder, to ensure that the finished product rose as it should and didn’t just resemble large pancakes (that’s been known to happen before!). I gently folded these dry ingredients in with a metal spoon to avoid the mixture being, well, over mixed.
Next I added the zest and juice of two lemons (the pips went in too which I had to fish out, pesky things!). A final and firm mix then the batter was ready to divide between two cake tins, approx. 20cm in diameter, which I’d already greased and lined.
Into a pre-heated oven they went on a temperature of 160°C (although my fan oven is very hot, so the temperature may need to be higher for less vicious cookers). Around 40 minutes later, and ta-dah! Ok, they may have been slightly more brown than golden but they were moist and springy to the touch so I was hopeful they would still taste reasonably good! And next came the really fun bit…
Once the two cake halves had cooled, I spread my homemade strawberry jam across the top of one of them (my beloved palette knife which belonged to my Grandma came in very handy for this). After sandwiching the two halves together, my next job was to prepare the fruit which would put the ‘Jubilee’ into my cake.
I hulled each fresh strawberry (they came from Thornes Farm Shop and were a lovely deep red colour with a delicious sweet taste) before cutting them in half lengthways, choosing strawberries of a similar size so that the decoration would be consistent. Earlier on, I’d whipped some double cream to within an inch of its life, or in technical terms until it was firm and the whisk left spiky peaks when lifted out.
I spread the cream liberally over the top of the cake, creating a temptingly blank canvas just waiting to be attacked with some colour. The first stage of the attack came in the form of the strawberry red cross, pressed gently into the cake.
A few more diagonal red lines using the smaller, thinner cut strawberries meant the picture was really starting to take shape. Finally, I filled the remaining white triangles with blueberries, again trying to select similar sized berries to keep the pattern neat.
The effect was fantastic and when I stood back to admire my artwork, I had to stop myself squealing with excitement. The crowning glory of the picnic, my Jubilee cake! I will admit that I was quite surprised at how good it looked and my Jubilee picnic guests agreed. But often when I’ve made something that looks good enough to eat…the taste doesn’t necessarily live up to the looks. The girls were keen to try it though so I carved out a piece each for us and hoped for the best.
I was very pleasantly surprised. The sponge was light and springy with the sticky sweetness of the jam complimenting the neutral smooth cream well. The sharpness of the lemon added a fresh taste with the fruit providing a juicy topping. Put quite simply: One was most pleased!