Victoria sponge, a very popular tea-time cake in the UK is usually two layers of sponge sandwiching jam and buttercream. I decided to use whipped mascarpone and LOTS of fresh raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds instead of jam and buttercream as I prefer something lighter, juicier and not too sweet. Some toasted flaked almonds were scattered on top for a bit of crunch. A note to myself for the next time I make it would be to up the mascarpone filling- more cream is always welcomed!
Apricots need a bit of coaxing from heat. They’re pretty insipid and spongy/mushy when raw but roasting, jamming, or stewing concentrates their flavour and makes them very, very apricoty. I really liked the combination of rosemary and apricot so I roasted them with a few sprigs of rosemary and also some honey, sugar, Jurançon (which is SO good) and a few chunks of butter. After 24 minutes of roasting at 180°, the apricots collapse into soft, jammy sacs bursting with flavour and the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. I ate about 4 whole apricots (!) on its own.. they were just too hard to resist. I also made a goats’ cheese bavarois and almond-oat crumble to accompany the apricots but I think I’ll just eat them all on its own in the end..
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.
This tart is quite possibly the best thing I’ve made all year, I couldn’t stop eating it! It has a bold, sweet-savoury flavour which I find super addictive. The whole composition of the tart- the olive oil wholewheat crust, apricot-rosemary jam and goats’ cheese is just so bizzarre and new to me, but so clever! The apricot-rosemary jam is seriously the best jam I’ve ever had- sweet, slightly tart and a touch herbal from the rosemary which helps balance the sweetness. And I’ve never made a crust like this, it’s completely different from the pâte sucrée and pâte brisee we make in school, there’s no butter or egg in it, the entire thing is bound together with olive oil and lemon juice! Totally weird, but so good. It’s crunchy and crumbly, with nubbly bits of oatmeal and oat bran. The recipe is from one of my favourite French blogs, 543 pages avant la fin du monde.