Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Birthday Sponge

For my first baking adventure back in Canada, I decided to pay tribute to The-Nation-That-Didn’t-Want-Me with the most classic of English cakes: The Victoria Sponge. I’m actually not a huge fan of sponge cakes so it’s surprising that I chose this one… basically, my only reasons were that it’s pretty and I had the ingredients on hand. Also, it’s summery and over here in Saskatchewan, where there is still snow on the ground, we can use all the warm-weather encouragement we can get.

Now, we all know a sponge should be light and airy and should swell like a pufferfish. Well, my mother’s oven and I have had some issues in the past and this time was no different – the beginnings were promising but the final result bore a distinct resemblance to an inner tube. I salvaged the situation by baking another cake (which also fell, naturally) and slicing the top half off each (the unsightly cake bits can be used for cake balls, or trifles, or just for eating; I chose to do the latter) and then sandwiching the bottom halves.

And what made THIS particular Victoria sponge rather exceptional were three things: 1) It was stuffed to bursting with fresh, sliced strawberries (not just jam!), 2) I used my mother’s raspberry jam under the cream, which is the juiciest, tastiest, fruitiest jam in the world, and 3) the decorations were completely original, courtesy of yours truly.

All things considered, it looked great. I didn’t eat any because I brought it to a birthday party (for a girl named Twyla, obviously) and it got gobbled up, and also because I’d gorged myself on leftover sponge cake bits and was feeling a bit ill by that time. Needless to say, the cake is rather tasty.

I used the recipe from my beloved Peyton and Byrne book, a gift from the splendid Miss Erwood. Here’s the trimmed-down Jordi-version of the recipe:

Weigh 4 eggs in their shells. Measure out an equal weight of unsalted butter, caster sugar, and self-raising flour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Butter and line a 20cm round cake tin.

In a big bowl, beat the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, plus a tablespoonful of measured-out flour. Once it’s all well-incorporated, add the rest of the flour and mix gently.

Scrape it into your tin and bake 35-40 minutes, until it’s springy. Cool.

Saw that sucker in half, then slather it with jam, cream, and strawberries. Make it sandwich-y and then sprinkle, liberally, with icing sugar. If you’re feeling creative, you can do what I did with the top…

Draw your message/name in hollow letters on a piece of paper, then cut the letters out (I had to carve them out with a jackknife, ’cause the scissors couldn’t get in there). Place the paper over the top of the cake and sprinkle your sugar – voila, sugar writing. Totally magic.Image

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On Breakfast (an Ode to Granola)

Last week I was feeling a little lost. I ran out of granola, and instead of finding alternative breakfast solutions spent the week not eating any. This led to a week of questionable levels of productivity and general hunger. A cup of tea does not suffice.

Up until the last year or so I never ate breakfast, or rarely at least. Much of my childhood was spent with my parents trying to convince me to eat something before I left for school, but it always made me feel sick or I didn’t have enough time or many many more excuses. That said, my friend’s mum used to let me eat ice cream for breakfast when I was in primary school, and I was totally cool with that. Unfortunately these ice cream breakfasts were few and far between. I kind of wonder how things would’ve been if I’d actually eaten breakfast every day. Maybe I’d be taller? Or have got better grades? Or maybe I would’ve been the same, just…less hungry.

Anyway, there ends the tale of woe of a breakfast-less childhood. Now I find it hard not to eat breakfast, and don’t really understand why I spent the best part of 23 years not bothering.

You guys, breakfast is AWESOME.

Know what’s even better? Granola. YES. This is where this is going. Back to the empty granola container on my kitchen counter. When I decided granola should be my breakfast of choice a few months ago, I started eating Dorset Cereals, which is fantastic (particularly the chocolate stuff), but prohibitively expensive. £5 for 550g? No thanks. I would weigh it into 50g portions so that I knew it would last a long time. Please, don’t judge me, it’s sensible okay! But what turned out to be more sensible was to make my own, which is a) cheaper, and b) tastier.

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GRANOLA

Enter Leon.

I love Leon, and it always makes me sad that they don’t have one in Cambridge, but their Ingredients and Recipes book helps me to pretend that I am there all the time. They have a pretty amazing granola recipe, which I have adapted slightly because I really like banana chips, and you can adapt it too, because you can put anything in granola. Even chocolate. And you could probably eat it with ice cream, if you’re anything like 6 year old me.

You will need:

150g honey

60ml sunflower or groundnut oil

250g rolled oats (the porridgey kind)

100g oatbran

150g sunflower seeds

100g hazelnuts

150g dates

100g dried apricots

100g sultanas

100g wheatgerm

(I substitute the dates with dried banana chips and more apricots, and I put 50g pumpkin seeds and 75g dried cranberries in too. I have never used the wheatgerm, because I couldn’t find it anywhere when I first made it, and it was fine without, so I don’t think you need it.)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4

2. Pour the honey and oil into a pan and heat gently until the honey has melted

3. In a bowl mix the oats, bran, sunflower seeds (and pumpkin seeds if you got them!), then pour the honey mixture on and mix well until everything is coated. Spread it out on a large baking tray

4. Roast for 20-25 mins turning everything 3 or 4 times, then leave to cool.

5. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, dates and apricots, and when the oats are cool, mix everything together with the wheatgerm (if you want) and store in an air-tight container. It’ll last about a month (unless you eat it all really quickly).

Writing out this recipe has made me want to eat breakfast again.

 

– Lizzie

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Returns

So, remember that time when Jordi came back to England and we stopped transatlantically baking? So do I…. It was a year of joy, where we baked and ate together and…mostly drank a lot?

Sadly, the UK Border Agency had other ideas for my dear friend, and as a result, her, and her fantastic husband Robbie are returning to Canada. “But wait!” I hear you say…”does that mean that The Royal Moose is no longer defunct?”

YES.

In fact, I just baked a pretty awesome loaf of bread.

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