One of my favourite television shows over here has to be Larkrise to Candleford. Based on a trilogy of novels written by the author, Flora Thompson about the countryside of north-east Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire at the end of the 19th Century, neither Todd nor I have ever missed an episode in all of the three series that have come out now. In fact we purchased them on DVD so that we could treat ourselves to turn-of-the-century village life anytime we wanted to!
A reader recently contacted me, and asked me if I had any knowledge of the type of food that would have been cooked in that era. An American, he and his wife are also great fans of the show, and were very curious about a cake that they had seen the old cook beating together in a bowl during one episode in series one.
Well, since the series takes place in the late Victorian era, I would have to say, without a doubt and with fair certainty, that it was probably a Victoria Sponge, or Victoria Sandwich Cake . . . a lovely buttery sponge cake that would have benefited greatly by some strong armed beating in a bowl.
It was the Victorians that invented this lovely cake by adding butter to an ordinary sponge mixture, which baked better in two flat tins rather than one deep tin. (Oh those Victorians, they were very clever at inventing things I have to say!)
The two cakes were then stuck together with a layer of tasty jam. According to Victorian manuals of the day, sponge cakes would have been made more for the nursery tea table than the drawing room, but we won't quibble the facts . . . the fact is that this cake is delicious, and I would serve it to anyone, child or adult!!
This is just the sort of cake one would imagine Dorcas and her employees at the Post Office sitting down to late in the afternoon . . . teatime . . . a china pot of steaming, freshly made tea at the ready to be served along side of lovely thick slabs of this moist and delicious sponge.
This is a real favourite around this house, and more or less tends to get treated like an ordinary every day kind of cake . . . but upon reflection, I know not why . . . coz it is fine enough to please even the most discerning of palates, and is anything but ordinary!!
I think Dorcas Lane would highly approve . . . it surely being my only weakness . . . something of which she knows full well . . . of this we would be in agreement. (Recipe adapted from the WI Cakes Cookery Book by Liz Herbert. If there is one thing the WI know alot about, it's baking cakes!)
*Traditional Victorian Sandwich Cake*
Makes one 7 inch cake
Popular during the reign of Qyeen Victoria, this cake remains popular to this day, which is a huge testament to it's taste and ease of baking! Don't be tempted to use all butter. This is one recipe that is better for the use of a mixture of butter and margarine.
3 ounces of butter, softened (6 TBS)
3 ounces soft margarine (6 TBS)
6 ounces caster sugar (1 cup)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, beaten
6 ounces self raising flour (a scant 1 1/2 cups)
3 TBS raspberry jam
buttercream to fill (optional)
icing sugar or caster sugar to dust the top
Butter and base line two 7 inch sandwich tins. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
Cream the butter, margarine, sugar and vanilla together until light in colour and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture begins to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour.
Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, taking care to use a cutting motion so as not to knock out too much of the air that you have beaten into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins, leveling off the surface. Make a slight dip in the centre of each.
Bake on a centre rack of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponges have risen well, are golden brown, and spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes before running a knife carefully around the edges and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, place one layer on a cake plate. Spread with raspberry jam and buttercream (if using). Place the other cake on top, pressing down lightly. Dust with icing or caster sugar and serve.
By the way Commentor #63, Sheilagh, a Random Numbers Generator has picked you as the winner of the Delightful Hamper Giveaway. Contact me with your details and I will let the HamperGift people know where to send it. Thanks so much to everyone who participated and joined in on the fun. I wish you could all be winners. Don't be too disappointed though as I will soon be hosting another giveway hosted by the lovely people at Kellogg's . . . yes the people who bring us all those delicious breakfast cereals!