Dig out the cake tins and get baking for summer with this classic Victoria Sponge recipe.
A classic Victoria sandwich is the kind of recipe that can divide families. Do you use strawberry or raspberry jam? Do you put cream inside or serve on the side? Do you sprinkle caster or icing sugar on the top? Whether it's traditional or not, I like to use strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream to sandwich them together, and finish with a light dusting of icing sugar. I'll let you decide how you want to serve yours!
You will need
225g caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
About 3 tablespoons of milk to loosen batter (if necessary)
250ml double cream
1 jar of good-quality strawberry jam
A dusting of icing sugar
A good handful of fresh strawberries, halved
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm springform tins. In a standalone mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Next, beat in the eggs one by one before adding the vanilla extract. Using a spatula, fold in the flour until you have a smooth mixture. Use a little bit of the milk if you need to loosen the mixture. Divide the mixture into the two springform tins, flatten the top with a spatula, if needed. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until it's nice and golden. When the bases are cooked, take them out and let cool for a few minutes before you take it out of the tin to cool completely.
While the bases are cooling, prepare the filling by whipping the double cream. To assemble the cake, spread some strawberry jam on one of the bases before topping with cream, then add the second base and sprinkle with icing sugar, and top with some fresh strawberries.
Whether you’re spreading a thick layer on my Victoria Sponge or just on your toast in the morning, a good jam can be a thing of true beauty and the folks at Big Red Kitchen are at the top of their game when it comes to the sweet stuff. Nicola Smyth creates a range of award-winning jams, chutneys and preserves from her home kitchen in Meath. She puts massive emphasis on quality and traditional family recipes, but with her own special twist. Available in delis, markets and food stores throughout the country.
If you love to bake, you’ll know how often a recipe calls for vanilla extract, but you will also know how expensive a good-quality extract can be. I like to make my own and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is 3-5 fresh vanilla pods and 250mls of alcohol. I like to use vodka because it has a neutral flavour, but you can use bourbon or rum, if you prefer. Split the pods down the middle and pop into a resealable bottle or jar. Cover with alcohol of your choice and that’s it! Stick on a label and leave to steep for at least four weeks before use.
Wexford is renowned for its delicious strawberries so it’s no surprise that they have an annual strawberry festival. The Strawberry Fest takes place in the historic town of Enniscorthy from June 24-28 and is ‘jam packed’ with demos, music, events and fun for all the family. See: strawberryfest.ie