If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you’ll know my prowess in the kitchen leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when it comes to baking. There’s just something about the combining of flour, sugar and eggs that leaves me sweaty, flustered and lacking anything remotely resembling a cake.
But, like everyone else in the UK at the moment, I’ve become obsessed with The Great British Bake Off. So when Waitrose invited me to recreate a ‘traditional British dish’, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to master the art of cake making.
I decided to try my hand at a classic Victoria Sponge with a late-summer twist – plums. I absolutely love plums and they’re so juicy at this time of year. Plus, my friend Lil has a purple KitchenAid that I was dying to borrow, so my colour scheme was predetermined. And because I’m not particularly skilled in presentation, I wanted to try a ‘naked cake’ with no icing and a bit of a messy finish. Perfect for a baking beginner!
I used Mary Berry’s simple sponge recipe to make enough mixture to split between two small cake tins. For this you’ll need:
225g self-raising flour
225g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth. Told you it was simple!
The cakes need about 25 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees. While they’re cooking, you can start on the cream filling. I’m not a big fan of buttercream so I used a mascarpone version instead. For this you’ll need:
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Again, it’s just a simple combination of the three. Make sure you don’t whisk the mixture too much, though. Now prep your plums!
Slice your plums into similarly-sized wedges and set them aside ready for cake assembly. When your cakes are done (stick a fork in the centre and if it comes out clean, you’re good to go), leave them to cool completely, then slice each cake so you have four thin cakes in total. Now you’re ready to put everything together! For this bit you’ll need:
Jar of plum (or similar – I used Damson) jam
Your mascarpone filling
Icing sugar (to dust)
Spread a thin layer of jam on your first cake, then top it with the mascarpone filling. Arrange your plum slices in a fan shape, then place your next cake on top. Repeat three times until you have just one cake left, and pop this on the top! It’ll probably look a bit wonky and messy, but that’s ok. Give it some finesse by adding more plums to the top, scattering some redcurrants about and sprinkling with icing sugar.
Ok, so it won’t win any awards and I’m pretty sure Mary Berry would give me short shrift, but I love it. It looks so undone and pretty – perfect for plonking on the table at a late-summer garden party. And it tastes delicious, too!
What’s your favourite ‘traditional’ British dish?
All the ingredients for this recipe were bought from Waitrose using the gift card sent to me. Find more classic British dishes on their handy website, which is great if you’re planning an end-of-summer party. Happy days!