This victoria sponge recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart strawberry shortcake recipe, but since I spread some jam between the layers I thought a Victoria Sponge was a more befitting name. It’s no ordinary victoria sponge- instead of light and fluffy sponge or chiffon cakes for the cake layers, this one is a marzipan-cornmeal pound cake. It isn’t very heavy and dense though, it’s still pretty fluffy and the almond flavour is so addictive and pairs very well with the jam. Atop the slick of jam on the cake is a generous layer of mascarpone cream, a cool and neutral flavour to tame down the sweetness of the cake. I topped the cakes with the tiniest and cutest English strawberries- instant kitschy cute. Almost unbearably cute..
I’ve been obsessing over my blueberry plant ever since it started to ripen, very beautifully I might add. Blue begins to marble the skin and within a day or two the entire fruit turns from green to a dusty blue, then whole bunches turn blue then the whole tree.. it’s quite exciting watching it happening! My plant was heavy with ripe fruit a few days ago so I decided it was time to pick them and bake something. There wasn’t enough for pie or a crumble so a pound cake it was. There’s also some sliced rhubarb in it, since I had two stalks that needed to be used. Rhubarb and almond go hand-in-hand so in went some marzipan into the batter, and also some cream cheese.. I replaced a bit of the flour with ground almonds and this resulted in the cake falling after it was removed from the oven, but that’s ok- it was still delicious.
For a “regular” sized loaf pan:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stalk rhubarb, cut into 0.5-1cm chunks
170g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
160g cream cheese
40g marzipan (I used Anthon Berg 60% Almond Marzipan)
1. Grease and line a loaf tin, preheat oven to 160°.
2. Cream butter, sugar and marzipan until light and fluffy. Add egg one at a time, then add the cream cheese, vanilla and milk.
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds.
4. Fill the tin 1/2 full and scatter the blueberries and rhubarb chunks (save some for the top), then top with the rest of the batter and place some blueberries and rhubarb on top.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.
Damp, almondy, citrus cakes are one of my favourite kinds, I especialy love the ones that are so drenched in syrup that it leaves a sticky film on your fingers and are practically “juicy”. This cake ticks all the right boxes: very, very syrupy, gloriously dense, with the added bonus of a surprise flavour: rosemary! It’s very subtle but it makes quite a difference, and I find myself really liking the pairing of this usually savoury herb with sweet desserts. I was first and foremost motivated to use rosemary in this cake for economic reasons- I had already bought a bunch for the apricot jam I made a few days back and didn’t want to waste it! Being frugal has its rewards I suppose. Also, I’d first encountered rosemary in a cake in Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Lemon Rosemary pound cake back in 2005 (!!) then again at a café across LCB which serves their version of orange-rosemary cake (which is awfully expensive!) so I thought it’s about time I made a cake with rosemary in it. I was very specific about what I wanted: 1) it needs to be made with olive oil 2) flourless 3) very orangey 4) drenched in syrup so it took me well over an hour to find a recipe that seemed right.. and found it on BBC Good Food.. doh!! I just replaced the saffron with rosemary, but next time I’d replace one of the oranges with lemon, I think it’d be better slightly more tart. I ate mine with double cream but it’s very lovely with raspberry coulis too, like how they do it at the café.
I love blueberries with green tea, I think it’s such a mellow and well-balanced pairing. I adapted Dorie Greenspan’s cheesecake recipe from her book, and changed it up quite a bit. I found hers slightly too sweet and salty, but texture wise, it was perfect for me- dense yet still fluffy..? And very creamy. Besides adding matcha powder and reducing the salt (I left the sugar amount as it was, as the bitterness of the green tea would need it) , I swapped the graham cracker crust for an oreo one. I just thought it’ll be a better crust for the green tea.
For an 8″ springform pan
1) Butter and line a springform pan and cover the base with 3 layers of foil. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
♡1 pack oreo cookies, cream removed
♡1 tablespoons sugar
♡55g unsalted butter, melted
1. Bash the cookies into crumbs, and mix with the sugar and melted butter.
2. Press into the base of the cake pan. I like to level the surface by pressing a slightly smaller cake pan into the one I’m using.
3. Bake in the 180ºC oven for 10 minutes
♡600g cream cheese, at room temperature
♡1/4 teaspoon salt
♡1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
♡3 eggs, at room temperature
♡215ml heavy cream
♡27g matcha powder
1. Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer for 5 minutes.
2. Stream in the sugar and salt and continue beating for another 4 minutes until light and creamy.
3. Add eggs in 1 by 1 and then the vanilla.
4. Mix the heavy cream and matcha powder together. This will form a very thick paste. What I did was I thinned it with some of the cream cheese/egg mixture. When it’s slightly more liquid, pour this green tea “sludge” into the batter and beat it in. I do this so the matcha will be incorporated properly and won’t form lumps in the batter.
5. Bring water to a boil in a kettle and pour into a roasting dish larger than the cake pan, then place the cake pan in the bain marie.
6. Bake at 150ºC for 1 hour 15 minutes. The time varies according to your oven. It’s done when it jiggles only just slightly in the middle.
7. When baked, let it cool in the oven then chill in the fridge overnight. The texture improves after a few hours of refrigeration.
Blueberries & Cream
♡a handful of blueberries
1. Whip the cream to medium to stiff peaks and either simply spread it over the chilled cake or pipe it on. I chose the latter and piped it with a St Honoré tip.
2. Scatter blueberries over the cream.
I love carrots. I love baby sized cakes. These carrot baby cakes made me want to cry tears of joy. I used this Bon Appétit recipe, it’s super yummy! Soft, moist, warmly spiced, and perfectly carrot cake-y. The only thing I did differently was I omitted those pesky raisins and nuts.. I like my carrot cakes completely soft and pillow-like. I did add some dried cranberries and toasted coconut on top for crunch though, I just don’t like the crunch being in the cake. I also scaled down the frosting recipe by to a third and replaced the vanilla extract with 1/2 a vanilla bean, and thinned it down with single cream because I wanted the frosting runny enough to drip down the sides temptingly, lusciously, irresistibly..
I’m not a big chocolate person so I can’t really judge how good a chocolate cake is. But that being said, I do quite like this flourless chocolate cake from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook with berries and cream. I brought one for dessert to my friend Ian’s house when he cooked us a truly glorious Italian meal, and we had it with raspberries and blackberries and a big scoop of clotted cream ice-cream It’s quite dense and very rich so a teensy slice is enough, and the cream and berries are so necessary. It’s truly a big pain to make though- I used every single bowl I own and several pots to make it! The eggs need to be whipped with sugar, chocolate melted over a bain marie, yoghurt and milk boiled in a small pan, a meringue needs to be made, AND cream had to be whipped.. argh.
However, I’m not quite happy enough with this recipe though, I think I’ll try River Cafe’s Nemesis cake next. The recipe is similar to this cake which is really good but.. somehow not what I’m looking for when I think of a flourless chocolate cake. It’s a super fudgy dense cake, like a chocolate fondant, but what I want looks exactly like this Bourke St one, lopsided and rustic with a sunken middle, but squidgier and mousse-ier instead of dense.. if you know what I mean? A simple solution would be to slightly underbake this but it kinda seems like cheating.. I think maybe I’ll try cooking it in a waterbath. But wrapping a loose bottom tin with a double layer of aluminium foil is a real bitch and water always leaks into it no matter how careful I am. Perhaps the problem with a flourless chocolate cake is the fact that it’s flourless..? Or perhaps it’s just my lack of enthusiasm for chocolate..
I bought Williams pears last week and it’s been looking more and more pitiful as the days went by so I’ve finally baked a cake with them. It wasn’t really meant to look like this- I had planned on making it an upside-down loaf, with the sliced pears arranged neatly on top when it’s been flipped over. The pears floated into the cake batter instead of staying put at the bottom so it’s now.. a normal pear loaf, sans upside-down awesomeness. Oh well, was still delicious though- I used this recipe.
Although I’m in the “milky/creamy” camp when it comes to picking desserts, lemon is definitely one of the exceptions. I love tart, lemony treats of all kinds- lemon tarts and slices and drenched syrup cakes. This particular cake, however tops the list of lemony cakes (for now). It’s flourless, so its texture is crumbly but really moist and dense from the ground almonds and it is seriously lemony. It’s sharp flavour balances the heft of the cake, and you don’t realise just how rich the cake is- it’s definitely not shy on the butter.
I don’t claim credit for this recipe as it’s one of those wildly popular cakes here in the UK. I’ve compared and tweaked several recipes and have come up with this one.
♡225g unsalted butter, room temperature
♡225g caster sugar
♡225g ground almonds
♡3 large eggs
♡115g polenta (cornmeal)
♡1tsp baking powder
♡1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
♡4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
♡2 clementines, both zested 1 juiced
♡Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 150º
2. Grease and line a regular sized loaf tin. There will be some extra batter- you can make mini cakes or alternatively, you can use a 7″ or 8″ round cake tin. I’m not too fussy when it comes to choosing a tin, I like shaking things up and make cakes of different shapes and sizes.
3. Zest the lemons and clementines and juice the lemons and 1 of the clementine. Strain the juice to remove the seeds and pips.
3. Cream the soft unsalted butter, vanilla seeds and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the ground almonds into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice.
4. Fold in polenta and baking powder over the egg batter, the mixture will be runny- that’s ok!
5. Pour the mixture in to the prepared cake tin, and bake for 1 ½ hour. Test by poking a skewer in the middle of the cake- if there’s wet batter clinging to it, bake for another 5-10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool until just slightly warm before removing from tin.
♡100g icing sugar, sifted
♡juice of 1 lemon, sieved
1. Slowly add the lemon juice to the powdered sugar, stirring constantly. Not all the juice may be needed- the glaze should be and opaque white and pretty viscous.
2. Use a spoon to spoon the glaze onto the cake, pushing the glaze over the edges of the cake so it drips prettily down the cake.
I did a short internship at Lanka last summer for two months, and whilst I was there I made this cake many, many times! Lanka, being a Japanese-run bakery, had plenty of yummy French pastries and cakes in distinctively Japanese flavours and styles. This cake was one of the most popular cakes and rightly so! It has a biscuit crust under a dense, almond-y, and bittersweet green tea flavoured cake. I made one for my godmum’s birthday last Sunday, and had extra batter so I made a tiny 13cm cake for myself! At Lanka, it’s served as it is, but I thought it would be nice with a light fluffy layer of unsweetened double cream and dotted with some fresh blueberries and white chocolate shavings for a burst of sweetness and tartness to contrast the bitterness of the green tea.