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 made a simple strawberry-rhubarb jam to fill a Strawberry Shortcake/Victoria sponge. I wanted it to be quite tart so the cake wouldn’t be too sweet so I used a ratio of 80% sugar to fruit, so 800g sugar to 1kg fruit. I used about 3/4 strawberries and a quarter rhubarb, the rhubarb was just to make the flavour a little more interesting. Macerate the fruit with the sugar for 2-3 hours, then squeeze 1 whole lemon and place the squeezed lemon into the pot to boil along with the fruit until it reaches “thread-stage”. I just halved the very large strawberries and left the small ones whole because I like big chunks of fruit in my jam, but if you like it smoother, then you can chop them up smaller, of course.
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.
This weekend was full of yeasty experiments, I made a black sesame braided loaf, a plain milk loaf and croissants. My intention for making croissants was to use my newly discovered ingredient, a jar of rose petal jam that I had chanced upon in a Middle Eastern grocery shop in Edgware road. It’s very floral, rose-y but assertively sweet, so I thought a buttery, flakey croissant would be the perfect blank canvas for the flavour of the jam to shine but not overwhelm. I’d only ended up making two croissants with jam in the middle as I was worried the jam would leak terribly and make the croissants stick to the baking sheet. I needn’t worry though as even though it did leak slightly it was perfectly ok and in fact it was so delicious! I had only spread a smidge of jam in the middle and it was the perfect amount, enough to perfume the croissant delicately and make it just a touch sweet.
I still have half of the croissant dough in the fridge, I’ll probably bake the rest of it with jam, and when I’m done with that I’m thinking of making little brioches filled with rose jam.. Or maybe mixing some of the jam with berries and making a galette, or spooning it over vanilla rice pudding.. or semolina? Or making little rose doughnuts.. hell yea definitely doughnuts! Maybe I should fill the doughnuts with rose crème diplomat instead of just jam? Or a rose bakewell tart? Rose linzer cookie? Rose pound cake?