So I promised you a second cake recipe today and I wasn’t going to back down. A promise is a promise. I confess that it wasn’t a difficult task for me, especially this week. I’ll be having a break for my birthday this weekend and as per tradition I am baking a double treat: two cakes or any two sweet other things for that matter. Forget the pitiful attempt at making this sponge way back when I was still new at this blogging thing. This is the recipe you want, and which I will repeat tomorrow.
I had no idea what to write about today, but whilst browsing and processing some photos this morning I came across these pictures and wondered why I haven’t posted them before. This is a recipe that – at first – has left me indifferent. Eventually it did grow on me. You see, with baking, as with everything in life I guess, one must be ready to adjust and work with what one has. It’s very easy to buy loads of equipment/gadgets, only to be used once for one particular bake, then set aside and left unused for the rest of one’s life. I would buy a whole catering shop if I could, and in many ways, I try to limit what I buy (J would slightly disagree, but he’s a patient man, bless him); I must admit I still find it hard to resist that extra springform pan, or that lovely bundt tin with the gorgeous pattern – like those in the books!
I found the recipe for this cake in Cooking for Friends. (I have found a good compromise when it comes to recipe books: I buy them from Used sections, online or otherwise, as long as they are in good condition.) Skipping the majority of chapters, I went straight to the puddings and chocolates, as one usually does! You will find this as Coffee and almond crunch cake, but I opted to remove the “crunch” bit because the cake tin I used was too large and the crunch mixture didn’t hold on the top. So instead of purchasing another tin I used what I had. The topping didn’t work for me, but that didn’t stop me from making the actual cake, which is delicious. Here’s what I did.
- 170g unsalted butter, softened
- 170g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon almond essence
- 100g ground almonds
- 4 tablespoons espresso, left to cool
- 100g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- icing sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/Gas mark 2 (fan oven). Grease the base and sides of a 20-23 cm cake tin, preferably deep with a removable base.
In a large bowl beat the softened butter and sugar together until they turn light and airy. Then beat the eggs, one by one until just combined in the mixture, followed by the almond essence.
Gently fold in the ground almonds and half of the espresso.
Next sift the flour and baking powder, and using a spatula or a large stainless steel spoon fold these into the wet cake mixture. Add the rest of the coffee and be careful not to overmix the batter.
Tip the whole lot into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This is a very light cake – really nice for the spring and summer months. Serve with ice-cream and/or some summer berries. (I am thinking that this recipe would also make lovely cupcakes or fairy cakes. Baking time will differ but I would say 10 to 15 minutes at 170ºC.) Enjoy!
(This recipe is adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, HarperCollins, 2008.)
When I purchased Nigellissima, this was the first recipe I wanted to try. I have previously come across other recipes with vegetable oil instead of butter as one of the basic elements of cake, but never olive oil. It could be that my reading isn’t extensive enough. Having said that this is somewhat of an unusual recipe. It really does work well though, and it has become very popular in this house. My lovely neighbour also told me it was “delicious” and I trust her judgement. Nigella’s recipe is great for those who are allergic to gluten, but you can also choose to replace the ground almonds with plain flour (the measurements of which she gives both in the book, and see the link below). I made it with almonds, as I always have a stash in my pantry, especially in the colder months when I make crumbles by the dozen. The almonds give extra moisture and oiliness to the cake, and by the end you should have something in between a sponge and a cake. If you want something easy but different this is the recipe you should go for, and it takes no time to prepare just before your guests arrive for lunch. Perhaps today for Halloween. All you need now is an espresso. A real one. Black and black.
Additional note (11.12. 2013): I have made this cake again and have posted new updated photos. Click here for the full recipe.
As I have said in previous posts I rarely write about recipes the minute I try them out, so this one will break my record. Reason being that with the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee coming up, classic British food is all the rage. Imagine last year’s Royal Wedding times a hundred. So instead of the chicken recipe I planned to write about today, I give you this recipe for Victoria Sponge. I made it in a rush but it turned out OK.
I remember the very first one I made (around ten years ago…whoa!) didn’t taste all that great. My dreadful mistake was easy to spot: instead of using baking powder I added bicarbonate of soda into plain flour. You can stop there…again, major disaster! What was I thinking? No baking powder in the pantry, that’s what. We had friends over for dinner that evening and boy was our friendship tested! They *all* had a slice of the sponge and still said it was good. When I insisted on feedback they admitted that it was “soapy”. Poor things! (On a serious note I dislike people who snobbishly, *not* for health reasons of course, refuse good food cooked for *them* when they are invited over at your home. This has happened to me and I’m sure it has happened to you.)
I have finally made a sponge which I really like. It’s very very simple. All you need though are two 7 inch sandwich tins or one 7 inch cake tin. If you only have a different size you could always try it out as I have previously done. It will work but don’t give it more than 15 minutes (per sandwich tin). I recently made one using a different recipe for the top and bottom layer to try things out, like a rebel! Ha!
There are two main versions of Victoria Sponge – one with jam and whipped cream, which is perfect when gobbled up in one sitting by you and your many friends, and the jam minus cream one, like the one I like to make, great for fewer people, assuming that you won’t eat 5 slices each (or so we hope). With the Great British Summer on our doorstep (yeah..right) this is just what we need! Enjoy.
- 125g butter, softened
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 125g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- Raspberry jam (or strawberry)
- Heavy cream for whipping (This tastes much much better than the pre-made stuff!)
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC – 180ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 4-5 (depending on type: gas or electric).
- In a medium mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar preferably with an electric whisk until fluffy and light (turning almost white in colour).
- Beat in the eggs, one by one with a tablespoon or two of the flour after each egg. Then gently fold in (don’t beat) what remains of the flour.
- Pour the sponge mixture into greased sandwich tins and bake for around 20-25 minutes in two tins, or 35-40 minutes in one.
- When sponge is done, place the tins onto a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool down. Remove the sponge from the tins to cool completely. Spread one layer with good raspberry jam and whipped cream. If the jam you are using doesn’t have enough chunky fruit pieces it would be nice to add some fresh berries. Then place the other layer on top and sprinkle as much icing sugar as you want!