I want to share with you one of the easiest yet most delicious cakes I make, and it’s my boyfriends absolute fave … that’s why I chose today.
Three months ago today I was staying in London for four days having my autonomic testing done at the NHNN. I had hoped my partner would be able to come with me but in the nine months previous his liver had begun to fail drastically and his kidneys were following suit making him far too poorly to come with me. Not only that, just six weeks before my tests he had been put on the transplant waiting list and all we knew is that the call could come at any time so he had to be at the ready. So I had had my first lot of tests done and had got back to the hotel to wind down before bed … that’s when he called me. I knew immediately something was up, his voice was shaking and panicked I asked what had happened why was he upset?! “I’ve just had the call”, that moment is one I will never ever forget, brain fog can take a lot from me but not that! We didn’t talk for long because I knew he had to get going, him and his parents had a 2 hour journey to Birmingham to make. I knew there was going to be nothing I could do now, not today, not tomorrow nor a few days more so I stayed in London for my tests.
Very long story short, and one I’m sure in time I will share with you, he arrived at the hospital and all was a definite match, the donor organs were healthy and he was fit for surgery. At 8am he went down to theatre and after 12 of the longest and most emotional hours of my life I had a message from his sister to say he was out, surgery was a success and he was doing well ….. thank goodness!! Fast forward three amazing months and you would not know he had ever been ill, the wonders of modern medicine and the most amazingly kind hearted family who lost someone that day yet allowed them to give life to someone else, it was a gift that will never be matched and I know that Raj is grateful every single day. I had never given much thought to being an organ donor before the events of the last year but I immediately signed up and often discuss with others to try and get them to do the same, my thoughts are ‘If you became ill and were willing to receive organs then why would you not be prepared to give yours if something happened and they were no longer needed by you’.
So here is the cake of his dreams and my go to if there’s celebrations or I feel he deserves a little treat …. Victoria sponge with fluffy whipped cream, filled and decorated with fresh fruits by the bucket load. It’s a big hit with a lot of my customers too, it’s light with the right amount of sweetness and divine with the fresh fruit.
First you need to make the sponge layers, for most of my cakes I do three layers but for these I do two otherwise I feel there’s too much going on per serving.
- Turn on your oven to 165°C fan or 180°C if not, the grease and line two 8″ sandwich tins
- Put 250g of caster sugar and unsalted butter in a bowl and best until very pale
- Sift in 250g self-raising flour and 1 tsp baking powder, add four large eggs and 1tsp of vanilla essence
- Beat for a further minute until all the ingredients are combined, now split evenly between the two tins and spread the mix around with a knife so it’s relatively flat across the whole tin
- Bake for 25 mins or until they’re lightly golden and a skewer come sour clean
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool
While they’re cooling you can start cutting up your fruit, if you’re putting strawberries in the middle as a filling I tend to cut them into small cubes and place in a bowl with a sprinkling of sugar – this helps to add a little sweetness and also makes them sweat so they’re less likely to do so when mixed with your cream.
Now for the tricky part, whipping the cream, I never realised how hard it was to get the right amount of whip – too little and it’ll just slide straight off your cake and leave a soggy mess, too much and you’ll start making butter! For an 8″ I use around 600-900ml of double cream, add 4 tbsp of icing sugar and 2 tsp of vanilla essence (my Mum showed me last week you can also add a massive dollop of lemon curd, about half a jar, and it tasted divine so I would highly recommend if you like lemons! Just omit the sugar and vanilla). You want all your equipment ice cold, I tend to put my bowl and whisk in the freezer for 15-30 mins before I use it, then put all your ingredients in and get whisking. I get my cream to a soft peak stage and then take over with a hand balloon whisk until it’s just strong enough to hold shapes on the bowl.
Once the cakes are nice and cool trim the tops so they’re level and place your first layer of sponge on your board or plate, mix a dollop of your cream to the sweated strawberries and mix well, now pile on the strawberry and cream mix before placing the other sponge on top, give it a little press down to ensure both are stable together. Put a large mound of cream on the top of your cake and using a palette knife gently put it around the top and over the sides adding more if you need, use a patterned scraper or your palette knife to make decorative sides if you like, must try not to overwork the cream as this can cause it to over eat and split.
To finish, put a few spoonfuls of leftover cream into a piping bag with your choice of tip and pipe a border around the top and bottom edge of the cake, if there’s tonnes leftover you can always pipe another layer of cream onto the top! Take your fruits and get creative making pretty patterns and making your cake look irresistible, once it’s all complete it must go back in the fridge and remain chilled until serving.
Due to the way fruit and cream can react together I generally make these cakes on the days they will be eaten otherwise you run the risk of the fruit sweating into the cream and ending up with a mushy mess! So there it is, a simple and easy yet totally gorgeous cake you can make to share with all your besties …. Yum! Xx