Brad came from his run the other day and immediately announced that he came across “blackberry fields” and we are going blackberry picking right now. Well, seeing that I had nothing better to do and the kids needed to get out of the house we set off with our tiny tupperware containers. Fools.
As soon as we got there I realised that they were indeed “fields” and we should have brought buckets! We filled our containers in no time and decided to come back the next day with better equipment. We got home in time for some afternoon tea and cake.
There is no cake more British than Victoria sponge. It is sold in every tea room, coffee shop and cafe but sadly they are no match for a homemade one. The genius of Victoria sponge in its simplicity. Two fluffy sponges sandwiched together with a bit of cream and jam. Simple yet glorious. Now make it mascarpone cream and homemade blackberry compote made from wild blackberries and you will want to eat this cake for the rest of your life, nothing else needed.
The classic British sponge is extremely simple to make but you do need to know a few tricks to get it right. The cake batter is a combination of half a pound of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. The Brits use self-rising flour and don’t add any rising agents. I really dislike self-rising flour and always adapt my recipes for a regular Canadian flour (yes, I buy only Canadian flour in the UK).
The secret to get the cake incredibly soft and delicate is in the mixing. You start off by creaming softened butter with fine caster sugar until very light and then add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition, then flour, baking soda and powder and flavouring. You want your sugar to completely dissolve by the time the batter is all done. To check you can rub a little amount between your fingers to make sure it’s all smooth. The consistency of your batter should be the same as buttercream. That’s how you know you made good sponge batter.
- 1⅕ cup blackberries
- ⅕ cup sugar
- 2 tbs water
- 250 g/ 1 cup butter, softened and unsalted
- 250 g/1⅓ cup caster sugar
- 4 eggs, large
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 250 g/1¾ cup flour
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 250 ml/ 1 cup mascarpone, chilled
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 175 ml/ ¾ cup double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- In a small saucepan combine blackberries, sugar and water and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the syrup coats a spoon.
- Remove from the heat and process in a food processor or a blender until smooth.
- Push through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350 C, grease two 8"/20cm round cake pans and line with parchment paper, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer cream softened butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
- Start adding eggs one by one, whipping until well combined after each addition for about a minute.
- Add vanilla bean paste and lemon zest.
- Combine sifted flour, baking soda and powder and salt in a separate bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix well, stopping the mixer and scraping sides and the bottom of the bowl.
- Divide the batter between two pans. Weigh them to get exactly the same cake in size.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.
- Whip chilled mascarpone with icing sugar and vanilla bean paste for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
- Then add double/whipping cream and whip for 2 more minutes until stiff.
- To assemble the cake spread mascarpone cream on the bottom layer of the cake.
- Pour blackberry compote on top and gently spread with a offset spatula.
- Top with another cake layer and dust with some icing sugar for the traditional look.
For more British baking inspiration browse through these links:
Totally Summery Eton Mess Cake from Supergolden Bakes
Earl Grey Lemon Cake from Cygnet Kitchen
Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake from Domestic Gothess
Cherry Bakewell Croissants from Patisserie Makes Perfect
Banoffee Tartlets from me