About MissCakeBaker

I spend the week running in heels and the weekends in my apron.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Classic Victoria Sponge Cake

I saw this recipe on Red Magazine's website this and it reminded me of how much I love a slice of Victoria Sponge cake. This is probably one of the most basic cakes around but in my opinion still one of the best. I've been trying to find out who actually invented the Victoria (n) Sponge cake but there's not much detailed info around. I realise it is named in honour of Queen Victoria but I wanted a bit more background on it. It was ironically an American website, whatscookingamerica.net, which gave me the most information.

According to them, Anna, the Duchess of Bedford who was one of Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting, is credited as the creator of teatime. Because the lunchtime meal had become smaller, the Duchess suffered from "a sinking feeling" at about four o'clock in the afternoon. At first the Duchess asked her servants to bring her a pot of tea and a few bread stuffs into her dressing room.

Adopting the European tea service format, she started to invite her friends for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle during her summer stay. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and tea was served as the accompanying beverage. The Duchess continued her tea parties when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for tea and a walk in the fields. The practice of inviting friends to come for afternoon tea was quickly copied by other social hostesses.

Queen Victoria was one such adopters of the tea party idea. By 1855, the Queen and her ladies dressed formally for afternoon tea. This simple cake was apparently one of the Queen's favourites. After her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, Queen Victoria spent time in retreat at Osborn House, her residence on the Isle of Wight. According to historians, it was here that the cakes were named after her.

The Recipe

110g caster sugar

110g butter

2 medium eggs

110g self-raising flour, sifted twice

3 tbsp good-quality raspberry jam

150ml double cream

Granulated or icing sugar for dusting

2 x 18cm/7in tins, preferably loose bottomed

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5. Grease the sides and base of the tins with butter and line the base with baking paper cut to fit, then dust the sides of the tin with flour.

2. Cream the sugar and butter together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer, until soft and fluffy. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if it curdles a little.

3. Sift the flour over the mixture, adding about a third at a time and folding it in with a large metal spoon, until smooth. Distribute the mixture equally between the two tins and spread as evenly as possible.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden, and just beginning to shrink a little from the sides of the tin. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, turn out and remove the paper. Place on a wire rack, top side up, to cool completely.

5. Spread the jam on the top side of one of the cakes, right to the edge. Whip the cream, until just holding a shape and spread on top of the jam. Put the other cake on top and dust liberally with granulated sugar or icing sugar.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Doris Grant Loaf

So this recipe is from Lorraine Pascale's book Baking Made Easy although I actually got it from watching her TV show. I then got wondering who Doris Grant was and why the loaf was named after her. Doris Grant campaigned for use the of fresh, natural ingredients and minimal processing of food. Her obituary in The Telegraph is really interesting. It contains this quote which I think is brilliant: "In attacking agene, which was added to flour to make the bread easier to bake, she declared: "If you love your husbands, keep them away from white bread . . .If you don't love them, cyanide is quicker but bleached bread is just as certain, and no questions asked."

As a result of her interest in this area she started baking her own loaves of bread which became known as the Doris Grant Loaf. The key difference with this loaf is that it doesn't require any kneading. This came about by error - one day when she was making the bread she realised she'd forgotten to knead the dough. She then made up 2 versions of the loaf - kneaded and unkneaded - and asked her friends to tell her which one they preferred. They preferred the unkneaded version and therefore the Doris Grant Loaf below was born.

The recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Baking Made Easy

Just read a great article in this week's Grazia about Lorraine Pascale. I have been loving her series Baking Made Easy on BBC2. Her cakes and bakes look so delicious and so simple. I was slightly in awe of the fact that she was making her Skinny Tarts in the most pristine white shirt - it is not a look I could ever pull off in the kitchen - well not the pristine part anyway. She is a former model (she looks amazing!) and I love the fact that she gave up modelling to concentrate on her long term career plan and even became a trainee mechanic at Skoda during that search. She finally found her vocation in food after doing a Leith's course which then led to her working at several London restaurants and The Hummingbird Bakery. This resulted in her setting up Ella's Bakehouse in Covent Garden - all this while single handedly bringing up her daughter. I'm off to get her book and hopefully try out a recipe or two this weekend!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Breakfast Loaf Sydney Style

I wasn't sure if I'd get a post up this weekend - my laptop broke on Friday night. It must have jumped off the sofa when I had my back turned. Well that's the story I told my husband anyway and I'm sticking to it....

My best friend in Sydney gave me this recipe after I had it at hers for breakfast and loved it. I'm not sure where it originates from but I'm wondering if it is a Bill Granger as I know she (like me) loves his cooking. I like it toasted with butter on it - she has it with honey or jam (cherry if possible) although I find it sweet enough without an extra topping.

The Recipe

50g porridge oats
300ml milk
240g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g dried cherries
50g dried apple cut into small pieces
75g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbspn runny honey
1 egg, beaten
3 tbspn chopped almonds, plus a few extra to sprinkle on top of cake

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Pour the milk over the oats and set aside to soak for 30 mins. Grease and line a loaf tin.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and then add all the other ingredients and mix well together. Put the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the extra almonds over the top.

3. Bake for 45 mins - 1 hour (until golden on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean). Cool in tin before cooling further on a wire rack.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Beautiful Banana Loaf

Happy New Year! I've no idea where this recipe originally comes from - I've been making it for years. I usually make it when I have left over bananas that are going too brown to eat (seems to happen a lot - not to self to buy less bananas maybe....). My friend, who lives in Sydney, likes to eat her banana bread toasted with butter. Anyway this is a healthyish recipe for January (she says while eating a Chocolate Orange while typing.....)

The Recipe

75g plain flour
75g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large bananas, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g pecan or walnuts, roughly chopped (I just give them a bash to break them up)

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin.
2. Sift together the flours, bicarb of soda and mixed spice, tipping any bran into the bowl.
3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in bananas & eggs, then stir into the flour mixture with 75ml boiling water. Stir in the nuts.
4. Bake for 1 hour.