Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Victoria Sponge Cake

This recipe is for a quick and easy cake that is popular in the UK. Who knew that such a simple cake with so few ingredients could be so good? This cake is perfect for a light after dinner treat or it could be served at a party for an elegant yet simple dessert. It is not overly sweet, so the texture of the cake, the fruit and cream really come through. You can use raspberries as I did or the more common strawberries and cream. Dust with a light coating of confectioner's sugar and you are done!

Victoria Sponge Cake

1 cup butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
4 medium eggs (I used large)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

milk, to loosen

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line 7in cake pans or 1 larger baking pan (10 inch) with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between the cake pans and gently spread out with a spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack.

(If you made one large cake, use a serrated knife and cut the layer in half. Proceed below)

Sandwich the cakes together with jam, lemon curd or whipped cream and berries or just enjoy on its own.

Adapted from the BBC Food Recipes

"The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
-Walter Bagehot quotes (British political Analyst, Economist and Editor, one of the most influential journalists of the mid-Victorian period.1826-1877)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Favorite Sugar Cookies

The kids finally started school. I was beginning to think it would be Christmas before they got to go back. Our district's high school was being renovated over the past year and after much chaos, rumors and other fun, my two youngest went to school yesterday. My oldest, who starts high school this year, goes back on Monday. Keeping with tradition (even if that tradition is two weeks late this year!), I made a treat for the kids for after school on their first day. They all suggest different desserts (my son, who is 7, wanted Jello) but after much debate, I decided to try a new recipe. I've made plenty of sugar cookies before, but the addition of lemon to the mix was new to me. But the difference it makes in the taste and texture is out of this world. So I named these Favorite Sugar Cookies because from now on, they are our favorite!

Favorite Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar (I used 1 1/4 cup which worked fine)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract (I didn't have lemon extract on hand so I used regular lemon juice. You can add more if you like your cookies more lemony!)
1 tablespoon lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.
Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon peel.
Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Bunny's Warm Oven Blog

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." -Barbara Jordan