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Victoria Sponge success

Ages ago — ages and ages, long before kids, the Kardashians and the invention of cronuts — I loved Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, “How to be a Domestic Goddess.” It was a great cookbook, filled with recipes for breads, cakes, cookies and puddings.

And then I made her Victoria Sponge recipe and it made me rethink everything that I once believed to be true. I don’t actually remember why it was so bad. I just remember not even eating it and throwing it away. I made a small note at the top of the recipe “BAD 😦 ” and haven’t tried making this cake again.

Fast forward all of these years and my daughter wanted to have high tea at home so a cake was in order. I looked for a recipe – so many British recipes were still in British measurements and I didn’t have the energy or inclination to do the conversions. So I found one on Food.com that got nearly 5 stars and took a gamble.

As it turned out, then gamble paid off. The cake was so moist and delicious and ridiculously easy to make. The only adjustment I made was to double the recipe since my cake tins were larger than 8 inches (how large? I have no idea – again, I didn’t have the energy to measure them).

VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

3 large eggs, weighed in their shells
butter or soft margarine
caster sugar
self-rising flour
raspberry jam (or jam, jelly or curd of your choice. I used Bonne Maman’s Four Fruits preserve)
powdered sugar to dust on top

DIRECTIONS

The measurements for this recipe are equal amounts of sugar, flour and fat to the weight of the eggs. Weigh the eggs first – if the eggs weigh 8 ounces, you will use 8 ounces of sugar, 8 ounces of butter or margarine and 8 ounces of flour. If the eggs weigh 6 ounces, all the other ingredients will be 6 ounces – easy!

Set oven Gas 4 160C (fan oven), 180C or 360F: grease and base line the bottom of 2 x 8” sandwich tins – cake tins.

Cream margarine or butter together with the sugar, until light and fluffy.

Beat the eggs, and then add them to the mixture, gradually and beating well after each addition.
Sieve the flour and fold into the mixture with a metal spoon.

Divide equally between the 2 prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Remove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from the tins and fill with raspberry jam when cold, to avoid the jam seeping into the sponge.

A light dusting of powdered sugar on the top will finish it.

Place on an attractive cake stand or plate, and serve in dainty wedges with freshly brewed tea.

If you use butter remove from the fridge to soften before using. This is not necessary with soft margarine.

If large eggs are used they may weigh 7 ½ ozs/210g. If so make sure you use this weight for the other ingredients.

A smaller sandwich cake can be made with 2 medium eggs. Weight about 4 oz/55g. If so, use 2 x 7” sandwich tins and the cakes and the cakes will need less time in the oven – probably 20mins.

Serves 6-8.

The secret ingredient to perfect scones

Maybe it was hearing this story on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last week, but I’ve had “America’s Test Kitchen” on the brain and wanted to test drive one of their recipes.

This weekend, I decided to try a new current scone recipe and why not see WWATKD (What Would America’s Test Kitchen Do?)

Their cream scone with currants recipe proved to be ridiculously amazing and even better than the Epicurious recipe that has been my go-to scone recipe for the past year. Scone agnostics need to check this out.

Cream scones with currants

The secret ingredient? Cream. I know. It’s not very British. But tasting is believing!

Cream Scones with Currants

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 6 pulses. Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps, about 12 pulses.

2. Add the currants and quickly pulse once to combine. Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Stir in the cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

3. Turn the dough and any floury bits out onto a floured counter and knead until it forms a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Press the dough into a 9-inch pan. Unmold the dough and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Jam tarts

When we visited my mother in law in Devon, she made a lovely pie for dessert and had some extra pastry. What did she do with it? She whipped up a batch of jam tarts!

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The kids loved them. All you need is some pastry and a dollop of strawberry jam (or really any flavor you like). Easy peasy! Aren’t they pretty?