Long time, no see! It’s been over a month since I’ve last blogged. My excuse is I’ve simply been busy working. Teaching full time on different supply contacts, doing extra shifts in a day nursery during the Easter holidays definitely took it’s toll though and by the Easter weekend I felt terrible. I went down with a stinking cold which then turned into a horrible cough. This pretty much made me feel like not doing anything much for the second week of the Easter holidays. So much for wanting to go out running. I didn’t even feel like getting my bum off the sofa let alone gathering up some energy to stick my trainers on!
This cake was one I baked right back at the beginning of April. I really miss baking and hadn’t done much mainly because I’m meant to be on a diet. This hasn’t really worked well the last few weeks as I have been so tired after coming in from work. Slimming World has gone by the wayside, especially when Mr SmartCookieSam gets involved with the cooking. He thinks nothing of using lots of olive oil. So when I get chance I like to take a cake into a school I’m teaching in. I was working in a school for the last week before the Easter holidays and decided to take a cake to leave in the staff room on the table. I explained I loved baking but baking didn’t love my figure.
This Lemon Curd Victoria Sponge is from a recipe in Lorraine Pascale’s latest book “Bake,” You might have realised I’ve baked a few recipes from her book recently but that’s what I usually do when I get a new book. I get a bit carried away. It’s a traditional two layer Victoria Sponge baked in an 8″ or 20cm diameter sandwich tin and sandwiched together with both lemon curd and a little buttercream. I was definitely not going to spend my precious time making my own Lemon Curd so I bought a jar of Tiptree with my weekly shop. I used about half the jar in the filling so Mr SmartCookieSam was happy to use the rest on his toast in the morning!The cake was very quick to bake and perfect for a Spring day. I reckon I only spent an hour baking it from start to finish, if that. A quick dusting of icing sugar on top and the cake was good to go. Or if you prefer caster sugar, go with that.
The morning after I arrived at the school, put my lunch in the staffroom fridge and the cake in a plastic box on the table. I left a note telling people to help themselves. It was quite a big school so I didn’t get along to the staff room until lunchtime. When I got there I noticed nearly three quarters of the cake had gone. Several staff members thanked me for the cake. I said I would bring some more another time, if I had time to bake. It gave me a warm, cosy feeling knowing that some teachers appreciated my baking. Especially at a time when it was getting near to the end of term and everyone was tired. A little bit of cake just helps you get through the day.
I’m a member of the internationally renowned Clandestine Cake Club and regularly go along to local events in Yorkshire. I’ve been a member for over 3 years now and have made a lot of friends through the club. We take a cake each along to the event and try tiny pieces of each other’s cakes. If we can’t eat much, we take cake home at the end to share with family or work colleagues. Last year I was excited to hear that two of my recipes were to be published in the second Clandestine Cake Club cookbook “A Year Of Cake”. My Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith and Mojito and Coconut Tres Leches Cake recipes were featured in the book, much to my surprise but happiness!
Lots of yummy recipes are featured in the book including ones created by friends. One such recipe I’ve been desperate to have a go at baking is the one my friend Clare submitted for the book, her take on a British classic pudding in cake form- Eton Mess. Containing some of my favourite pudding ingredients, such as meringue, strawberries and raspberries mixed with cream. Clare’s cake uses buttercream and jam to sandwich a traditional Victoria sponge together and the Eton Mess part of the cake is it’s photogenic topping. Clare’s recipe also contains another ingredient I love which works perfectly with strawberries and raspberries, a luscious addition of white chocolate chunks.
Last Saturday afternoon I was at home for once. It’s been a crazy few weeks with every weekend spoken for and work has been chaotic. Baking was my chance to unwind and enjoy a bit of “me time”. I wanted to bake a cake to celebrate my daughter passing her college course. She is now a qualified make up artist and is off to uni to study media makeup and prosthetics in September. We are all very proud of her as she aims to follow her dream. Baking cakes of course is one of my ways of congratulating her! Everyone at home loves pavlova and cake so I knew the Eton Mess cake would be a big hit.
To bake the cake I started off by baking the sponge part. This is done in the usual way that you make a Victoria sponge and it wasn’t long before I was creaming butter and sugar together with my handheld electric mixer. Clare suggests using margarine instead of butter so I used Pure Non Dairy spread which I swear by for baking sponges and cupcakes. It makes them very light. Then in went four eggs one by one which were beaten into the mixture. As I started to add some self raising flour and baking powder I realised I hadn’t got the cake tins out. My cake tin drawers in my kitchen are getting very messy and it takes me ages to sort through them to find the right size tin. I was annoyed that one of the tins had fallen down the back of the unit and got wedged between it and the drawer below. Hubby would say it was my own fault for having too many cake tins! I don’t agree!
Finally having found the tins I was looking for I got them greased and the mixture in them ready to go in the oven. For once I remembered to set the timer and being as I have a fan oven I wanted to check them after 20-25 minutes. This is when I realise I’m not that good at multi tasking. I put some washing in the machine and another load out on the line. It took me ages to do this as there were loads of pairs of socks and pants to hang out! By the time I’d gone back inside I realised it was time for the cake to come out of the oven. Thankfully got it out just in time!
Now for the decoration part. For the cake topping I needed to make some mini meringues. I’ve only made meringues once or twice before, it’s something I’ve never really done a lot of. I always thought of them as being fiddly and complicated. But Clare’s way of whisking the egg whites until they are stiff then adding caster sugar a teaspoonful at a time was a great help to get the right consistency. I have always tipped in the sugar and wondered why I couldn’t get them to keep the egg whites stiff enough. Also, to add into the meringue mixture you mix in some cornflour and white wine vinegar. I was impressed with my shiny meringue mixture and then got my baking trays ready. I prepared up my piping bag and my large star nozzle. The meringue piped easily onto the trays and there was more than enough to go on the cake as well as having some left over.
Now for the cake assembling and decorating time, the bit I was looking forward to the most. I decided to use whipped cream in place of buttercream in the recipe. I had a small pot of cream in the fridge which needed to be used up and I didn’t want to waste it. I whipped up the cream but there wasn’t enough to fill the middle of the cake along with some strawberry jam. So instead the cream was just spread on the top of the cake with the jam in the middle. Once the cream was spread on I put meringue stars around the edge of the cake and filled the middle with raspberries, strawberries and white chocolate chunks.
Although the cake had been baked on Saturday afternoon for my daughter, we didn’t actually get to enjoy some until the day after. My daughter had been working all day Saturday and went straight to a friends’ house to a party and sleepover. Then on Sunday morning she went straight to work and didn’t get to eat her cake until Sunday tea time. I kept the cake in the fridge due to the cream in it and it kept it fresh. An extremely popular cake all round and one I would love to bake again in the future.
Oh no, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve updated my blog. It has been really busy here, just too much going on what with life in general! I thought I’d better get my act together and update it, seeing as Christmas and the mad hectic season is nearly upon us! Anyway, enough of that. Back to what I’m meant to be doing!
I’m going back to a cake I made a couple of weeks ago, initially intended for The Clandestine Cake Club‘s VCake event. The theme was Life Is A Just A Bowl Of Cherries and we were invited to bake a cake containing cherries and email our photos to Katie, the organiser. Only I clean forgot. This is not good and I only remembered when I read the write up Katie had written on the website. Anyway, at least I did make the cake and it was a pleasure to make it.
I always think of cherries as a summer bake so I decided to stick with the charming, retro bright red glace cherries. My kids aren’t great glace cherry lovers though but I thought if I do make a cherry cake at least they won’t nick it when I’m not looking! I set my heart on baking an old favourite, a cherry loaf I used to bake for coffee mornings. Only being me, I went to the cupboard and realised I hadn’t got any cherries left! How did that happen? So back to the cakey drawing board!
I was looking through the blog At Home With Mrs M after I did the link up to her Meal Planning Monday blog hop and noticed that she had a post with a recipe about a Cherry and Almond Victoria Sponge. This made my mouth water. To me, cherries and almonds go together like fish and chips, Ant and Dec, strawberries and cream… I just had to make this! Mrs M used cherry curd in her filling but I bought a jar of Morello Cherry jam in Sainsburys and hoped for the best. I love this jam, I buy it quite often to have on toast.
I originally planned to bake the cake on the Sunday and take it into work the following day on the Monday. What I had forgotten though, was that I would be too busy on the Sunday to be baking and then on the Monday we were out on a training day. So we wouldn’t be in work to eat the cake! So, I chose to bake it on the Friday and take it along as a second/ alternative cake for members to try at the Harrogate Clandestine Cake Club event.
Here’s how I made the cake. Now bearing in mind I’m usually trying to cram everything in at breakneck speed I think this one turned out fine. I was so impressed with the flavours that I’m definitely going to make it again and again!