Monday, 20 May 2013

Marie Sponge

Creating my interpretation of the classic Victoria sponge was no easy task, in fact it was a virtual minefield of tradition, convention and opinion. Fortunately I rarely trouble myself with such trivialities as rules, so if you are convinced that your version is the true Victoria sponge, then prepare to cry sacrilege. Frequent flyers will be aware of my love of home made jam, but here I have used roasted summer fruits instead, which provide a beautiful dynamism in both flavour and texture. This is complimented not by simply cream or buttercream, but a luxurious mixture of the two, lightly perfumed with a just a hint of vanilla. Finally I have finished the cake with a sprinkling of caster sugar. You can substitute with icing sugar if you must, but I find the little crunch of caster sugar crystals just adds to the cakes charm. With such changes I thought a revision of title would be appropriate, so have named this delightful early summer treat after the more controversial figurehead Marie Antoinette. For was it not she who uttered the fabled words "Let them eat cake"?

Prep time: 30 Minutes (Plus some cooling time)
Baking time: 30 Minutes + 20 Minutes roasting time
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
175g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt

For the roasted fruit
250g Fresh Strawberries (Weight after the stalks have been removed)
250g Fresh Raspberries
2tbsp Caster Sugar

For the ButterCREAM
100g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Icing Sugar
1tsp Vanilla
50ml Double Cream

Caster Sugar (To finish)

The first task is to prepare the sponges. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line their bases with baking paper. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour with the baking powder and salt, then mix to a smooth batter. Spoon equally into your prepared tins, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until golden on top and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the centre of the cakes. When you are happy they are cooked remove from the oven, leave in the tins for 10 minutes, then carefully remove each and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

As soon as the cakes are baked you can start on the fruit. Turn the oven up to 220C/425F/Gas 8. Remove the green stalks from the strawberries and halve each one, then place in a bowl with the raspberries and the caster sugar. Very gently mix the fruit together with your hands, taking care not to break the raspberries up too much, then spread evenly over a large shallow baking tray. Roast in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, until soft and starting the caramelise, then remove from the oven and spoon the cooked fruit (including the juice) into a clean bowl and set to one side until completely cool.

Once both the sponges and fruit are cool you can finish the cake off. In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, then sift in the icing sugar and mix until evenly combined. Add the vanilla and double cream then mix until smooth and silky. Take one of the sponges and place on a serving plate. Arrange the roasted fruit evenly on top of the sponge, then spoon over any of the remaining syrup than remains in the bowl. Spread the butterCREAM onto the base of the other sponge then upturn onto the fruit, sandwiching the two sponges together gently. Sprinkle over a little caster sugar and the cake is finished. A magnificent beauty indeed.

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