Eleven years ago, when I was little, me and my family moved suburbs. We changed primary schools to go to the local public school. I really didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to leave all my friends behind. I didn’t want to wear egg yellow shirts and crimson boy shorts, or have our school initials constantly changed to ANUS. But now I realise that move was the best we could have ever made, because it led me to my friend Maddie.
Our families became friends basically straight away, and almost all my childhood memories are interwoven with Maddie’s family. We moved to within a block of each other, bought a puppy in the same week, bought the same car, went to the same high school, went on holidays together and even went to university together. Maddie and her family don’t realise this, but I’m actually involved in an intense lifelong stalking project.
For her birthday I made her a classic victoria sponge cake, but fruitified. The sponge is infused with lemon zest because she loves lemon. In between the layers is a strawberry and raspberry curd and sliced strawberries as well. And the whole thing is encased in whipped cream, sort of like a giant jam scone.
I know it’s not quite spring yet but it feels so close! Strawberries are super cheap at this time of year and it was actually warm enough not to wear jeans today! This cake has a feeling of spring about it. I think it’s the sugared violets that are actually three years old but I never deemed a cake worthy enough to use them.
The curd for me ended up turning out too thin, I think because I under-cooked it. Don’t worry I’ve adjusted the recipe, but lemme tell you there were some stressful moments trying to build this cake! I ended up thickening it with some icing sugar and ground chia seeds (so yes this is indeed a very healthy cake), and the flavour wasn’t affected. If you like a super sweet cake you might want to add some extra sugar to the curd anyway, depending on how tart your berries are.
In other news, the very kind Jessica from Daily Gluttony nominated Sugar and Cinnamon for the Versatile Bloggers Award! I was really excited because I think Jessica’s blog is great, and love reading her recipes and stories. I’m meant to tell everybody seven things about me but my posts are usually full of things about me so I’ll just tell you one little weird thing: I love peanut butter and banana slices on toast.
I’m not really sure how to nominate my own favourite blogs, but here are some great new blogs that I have read this week, that I think are worthy of a mention:
Sugary and Buttery, Sinfully Spicy, Munchin’ Mel, Tide and Thyme, Half Baked Harvest, Peeps From Abroad, The Baker Chick, Recipes From a Pantry, 350 Sweets, and Cesca.
For a longer list of my long-time favourite blogs, check out my library page. Now for the recipe! Feel free to adjust the types of berries you use, and as I said judge the sweetness you think you’ll prefer. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.
Lemon and Berry Butter Cake:
Berry Curd: Adapted from What She’s Having
700g (4 + 1/2 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, but not blackberries, mulberries or anything too sour)
170g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
60ml (4 tbsp) lemon juice
60g (4 tbsp) butter
6 large egg yolks
Cut up all the berries and toss with the lemon juice and sugar. Leave to macerate at least 45 minutes. Blend together and strain into a bowl. It might take some time! Use a spoon to push out the chunks. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour a ladle of the berry puree in to the eggs to warm them, then return it all to the pan. Add the chopped butter and stir constantly over a medium-low heat until thickened. Strain into a jug and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to stop a skin forming, refrigerate overnight. If the mixture curdles slightly, either strain out the lumps or blend for a few moments to bring it back together.
For the sponge: Adapted from Cook wWith Jamie
225 (1 cup) grams butter, softened
225g (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 1-2 lemons
Either: Make two sponges with this recipe and use a knife to cut them in half once cool, or split the recipe in half and make four sponges, washing your two 20cm pans in between. I find it easier to bake the layers separately but it’s up to you.
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line 2 or 4 20cm sandwich pans. Cream your soft butter and sugar together until pale. Slowly add each egg, beating well in between additions until smooth and creamy. Sift over the flour and use a spatula to fold it in. Split the mix into two and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool, then take out of the pan.
For the icing and extras:
600ml (2 + 2/3 cups) whipping cream
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
250g (1.5 cups) strawberries
Beat the cream in a cold bowl on high until just starting to thicken. Decrease the speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar. Beat until just thick enough for soft peaks to form.
Cut any domes off the four cake layers. Place one layer on a large plate. Spoon over a thick layer of curd and spread it to one or two centimetres from the edge. Top with sliced strawberries. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final layer. To ice, use a large offset spatula to gently spread the cream in waves around the cake. Decorate either with more berries, or sugared violets.