The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

I have to admit straight away this is NOT my own sponge recipe!  But I have to share this. Cakes are my passion and you can’t get more classic than a vanilla sponge. With the classic and simple comes complication. The more simple the sponge the tricker it is to get right as you can’t hide a not-so good cake behind textures and flavours.

This has to be the best recipe I have tried and tasted so far! If you have one to rival it I would love to know!

Mary Berry - photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

Mary Berry – photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

The recipe is by the cake goddess herself Mary Berry. My mother had the fortune of taking an AGA course with her at her home many moons ago, and said she is the sweetest and most gentle soul who loves cakes, baking and sharing her experience with others. What a lovely lady!  Her sponge recipe is taken from:

Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

So here is my recipe for a wonderful vanilla sponge topped with sweet buttercream and fresh strawberries. The key thing about baking is technique, you don’t have to have top quality ingredients if you can’t get them or afford them. It is the technique and process you follow. You can do this, I promise! Just have a go!

Ingredients

Sponge

225g Unsalted butter (*important* room temperature, soft to touch but not melted)

225g Caster sugar

225g Self-raising flour

4 large eggs (*important* room temperature)

1tsp Vanilla essence

1tbsp milk (*important* room temperature)

Topping

150g Unsalted butter

300g Icing sugar

140ml whipped cream

1 punnet of fresh strawberries

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/gas 4 and grease your chosen tin(s). Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer for a minute until very smooth and creamy.

2. Gradually beat in the sugar, then keep on beating for 3 or 4 minutes or until the mixture turns almost white and becomes very fluffy in texture; scrape down the bowl from time to time.

3. Break the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork just to break them up.

4. Slowly add to the creamed mixture, a tablespoon at a time, giving the mixture a good beating after each addition and frequently scraping down the bowl. This will take about 5 minutes.

5. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and then continue adding the last portions of egg.

6. Sift the flour again, this time onto the mixture and add the milk

7. Gently but thoroughly fold the flour into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Do this as lightly as possible so you don’t knock out any of the air you have beaten in.

8. Stop folding when there are no streaks of flour visible in the mix and no clumps at the bottom of the bowl.

9. Spoon the mix into a tin (mine was a silicone Mickey Mouse shaped one!), or into two tins if you want to create a sandwich cake

10. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin(s) right to the edges

11. Bake for 20/25 mis or until a golden brown and the sponges are springy when gently pressed with your fingertip. They should almost double in size during baking.

12. Whilst the sponge is baking take the butter, icing and cream and mix thoroughly in a bowl with a metal spoon. Once mixed pop in the fridge to chill

13. Remove the tins from the oven and leave for a minute – the sponges will contract slightly. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

14. Once the sponge has chilled spoon and spread the buttercream on the sponge, spreading to the outside of the cake

15. Hull the strawberries and slice them in two so they have a flat surface to place on the icing

16. Stick the strawberries to the buttercream icing on the cake to cover the cake. You could also sift icing sugar over the cake if you wish.

17. Enjoy!

Fresh Sweet Chilli dip recipe

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Phew! London has been a sweltering bath of humidity this weekend, lovely to have the weather, but us Brits are never quite sure how to cope with it! Very few residential homes have air con here in the UK, so countless cold showers and wafting the nearest magazine or leaflet as makeshift fans seem to be the best ideas we seem to have come up with!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool - perfect way to cool down!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool – perfect way to cool down!

When the weather is hot and humid food needs to been fresh, light and cool. This is a light, tasty and versatile dip which can be served with carrot sticks, broccoli florets, mange tout, crisps, tortilla chips or anything you can dip! Try it, it is so fresh especially when it is lovely and chilled. Perfect with a chilled glass of rose!

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Ingredients

4 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 tbsp Thai Sweet Chilli sauce

Method

1. Mix the creme fraiche and chilli sauce in a bowl and chill for at least half an hour or so before serving.

2. Serve with crudités, tortilla chips or anything you can dip in it! Enjoy!!

*N.B.* If you need more dip just increase the quantities in ratio. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days

The ‘Not for Long’ Baked Vanilla Cheesecake

The 'Not For Long' Baked Vanilla Cheesecake

You see, I say ‘Not For Long’ as this is so addictive you will want to go back for more!

If you like an American ‘baked’ cheesecake then this is an easy version.  It is a recipe I found on a website somewhere from someone’s grandmother in Chicago, which I have adapted to what you can get here in the UK.  I sometimes add a layer of toffee sauce between the biscuit base and the mixture and top it off with crumbled Cadbury’s flake, but this is a blank canvas and you can go in which ever way you fancy with this dessert.  But a warning: It is guaranteed to be addictive!

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

16 Digestive biscuits

100g butter melted

600g cream cheese

2 tbsp plain flour

180g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, and 1 yolk

142ml pot of soured cream

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 c/350f/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 20cm spring form tin

2. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin

3. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter.  Press into the tin and bake for 5 minutes then take it out and cool it (you could even put this in the fridge if you are in a hurry)

4. Beat the cream cheese with the flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, yolk and soured cream till light and fluffy.  This can be done by hand or in a food mixer using the beater attachment

5. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base in the tin and then bake for 40 minutes.

6. After the time is up, turn off the oven, check the cheesecake, it should be set and wobble slightly in the middle leave in the oven to cool for 10-15 minutes

7.  After that take it out of the oven and leave to cool in it’s tin and ideally store in the fridge for an hour or so

8.  Add any toppings you wish and serve!

 

This recipe is the intellectual property of Victoria Proctor 2012

The Verity Cupcake

The Verity Cupcake

This GLUTEN FREE cupcake was a complete surprise for me and my wonderful friend Sam who is an incredible baker!  Once in a while we have an afternoon of adventure, inventions and disasters!  It is a silky dense rich cupcake which is so chocolately it tastes naughty, but in fact it is gluten free!  We were so shocked at how well it worked! We have named it after a wonderful friend of ours who is Glutenly-challenged and is constantly on a quest to find tasty gluten free options!

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
180 g demerara sugar
200g butternut squash
50g white rice flour
35g dried sour cherries
100ml Brandy
100g ground almonds
75g cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Icing sugar
Fresh cherries
Cherry jam
Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and place cupcake cases in a tray

2. Soak 35g of chopped sour cherries in 100ml of Brandy (we used Sainsbury’s value Brandy) and set aside

3. Whisk eggs with sugar for 6 minutes or so, till pale golden and fluffy

4. Drain the Brandy from the cherries into a cup  (don’t throw this away! You’ll need it in a minute!)

5. Whizz the drunken sour cherries till puree’d then add the Brandy back in and whizz up again

6. Add the grated Butternut Squash, Brandy/Cherry combo and whizz up altogether

7. Mix the rice flour, almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl

8. Add dry mix gradually into the wet mixture (careful not to add too much at once if you are using an open mixer unless you want to end up looking like a ghost!)

9. Mix together for a few minutes, the mixture still will be loose (apart from the Butternut Squash gratings)

10. Spoon into the cupcake cases and place in the oven to bake for 30mins

11. Once baked leave them to cool on a rack while you prepare the icing.

Icing

(If you are preparing the icing before make sure to chill it while you are baking the cupcakes!)

1. Whizz the softened butter with icing sugar

2. Add 3 teaspoon of your favourite cherry jam

3. Mix with a metal spoon

4. Take a teaspoon and decorate the cupcakes with an artistic ‘blob’ of icing

5. Place a fresh cherry on top of the icing on the cupcakes (keep the stalk in the cherries, it makes it look better)

This recipe is the intellectual property of Victoria Proctor 2012