This is one of those recipes that ballooned. It was supposed to be a simple lemon sandwich cake. Then it turned into a quadruple lemon layer cake and then I pulled it back to a less exuberant lemon layer cake. I’m happy with it at three tiers high. Four tiers would have been showing off. READ MORE
This is a version of a frangipane tart or Bakewell tart for all those readers who are allergic to nuts. This uses coconut instead of almonds and I promise does not suffer for it whatsoever. You may find the coconut sponge cooks a little unevenly. I certainly found this the second time (out of three) I made it, but worry not, it’s still a winner. READ MORE
Summer is coming so it’s time for a lemon and coconut cake. If coconut isn’t your thing then make a simple buttercream filling instead. I’ve kept the coconut away from the main cake as I know some folks aren’t keen on it. I however am a coconut fiend.
This recipe first appeared on ITV’s This Morning. You can find a video of the recipe being made here as well as the full recipe.
Failure can be a good thing. Take London for example. The first time I took a solo trip to London it was a disaster.
In 1999 I was a fresher at Liverpool University, studying for a degree in English Language & Literature. One day I bought a copy of Vogue. Now given I was a chunky size 14 this was ill advised. However this copy did feature a writing competition. Which I of course, being full of arrogant youthfulness, entered.
Months later I received a very proper looking embossed letter telling me I hadn’t won, but I was a runner up. How exciting! Imagine! A girl from Leicester, via Liverpool, being invited to London! All the L’s and all the exclamations. At this point I should have been happy in my triumph, left it there and declined. But I didn’t.
I bought a pashmina. Because that’s what I imagined women in London who were invited to Vogue House might wear. It was beige. I also bought a pair of pedal pushers in a kind of gold colour. They fit badly and made my already reasonable sized backside look gargantuan. I also wore a white loose fitting peasant style T shirt. And heels. A pair of heels that barely fit, were again beige, and hurt considerably. Oh and a beige handbag that didn’t fit much in. Not an umbrella for instance.
But wait! The horror wasn’t complete! I decided, the night before I caught the train to London, from my teenage bedroom in Leicester, to fake tan my whole body.
Reader, I don’t think I need to tell you how bad I looked. A beige monstrosity, streaked in orange. It rained in London, as it often does, and I, being a girl from up North, had no idea that carrying an umbrella in the heat of the capital’s summer might be a good idea. I arrived; wet, streaked, stressed and beige.
I managed to sit through the lunch, in a panelled board room, with Alexandra Shulman (Editor), Miranda Sawyer (Journo) and Nick Hornby (Author), the latter whose work I bought days before to swot up on.
Shulman and I didn’t speak. I imagine she was concerned the beige horror might be a contagious disease. Sawyer chatted kindly, though clearly not engaged in anything a 19 year old student might have to say. (I don’t blame her). Nick was lovely. So interested in everyone. A real gent.
I took the Midland Mainline back to Leicester on the to pick up my Fiat Panda, feeling London was so very unattainable to me. I had embarrassed myself and done a disservice to every girl from the Midlands trying desperately to reinvent herself.
Just 3 years later I moved to London, again, solo. And it was anything but a disaster. I loved it. And I never wore a beige pashmina again. Or gold pedal pushers. (The same can’t be said for my love affair with ‘Holiday Skin’ fake tan).
I made a lovely video with the Scoff folks to show how to make these very easy white chocolate mousse eggs. You can see the vid on my YouTube channel and also the Scoff one. You can watch it below too.
Makes about 9 though depends on the size of your chocolate eggs
For the curd:
70g castor sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
For the mousse:
2 large eggs, separated
125g white chocolate
9 hollow milk chocolate eggs (though how many you fill will depend on the size of your eggs of course)
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, allow to cool a little. Locate something to stand the finished eggs in – an empty egg box would be perfect.
Make the curd by placing a pan of simmering water over a medium heat and placing a heat proof bowl over the top, being careful that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into the bowl and whisk. Stir until completely dissolved.
Then add the eggs and whisk intermittently for 10 minutes until the curd has thickened. Chill in the fridge.
To make the mousse, whisk the egg yolks until pale and creamy then add in the melted chocolate and whisk well.
In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks then add 1 tbsp into the mousse to loosen it a little – simply beat it in with a wooden spoon.
Then add in the rest of the whisked egg whites and fold into the mousse with a metal spoon using a slicing action. Place the mousse in the fridge.
Take the hollow chocolate eggs and gently saw off the top of the egg with a sharp knife, just to reveal the inside enough to spoon mousse into. (Don’t worry if some of the chocolate falls into the chocolate egg).
Spoon white chocolate mousse into the hollow eggs and place in the egg box. Spoon a tiny bit of cooled lemon curd into the middle of the mousse before serving.
NB: These hollow eggs must be kept in the fridge until serving. It is advised not to serve raw eggs to young children, pregnant women or the elderly.
Yesterday I was on QVC again talking about the wonder that is Kitchenaid. The ‘theme’ of the show was versatility I try and theme each show but I do wonder whether this is just for my own personal amusement or if it’s any help at all. Having spent more time blogging and on social networks that I have on TV I still find the whole one sided process of TV alien. There’s rarely real time feedback from the viewer. Yesterday a lovely lady called in – it made my day! But of the thousands who watch you just don’t know what they’re all thinking. That is until you post the pictures of what you’ve made on Facebook and some kind soul tells you your ice-cream cake looks like mushrooms. Honesty can be overrated.
Anyway, here’s a very simple recipe for a Victoria sponge cake and then five ways you can dress her up or down. Think of her as your little black dress of a cake. And if you do try the cherry Bakewell ice-cream version then I assure you, the filling does not in any way taste like fungi like.
All comments gratefully received. I love reading them.
Mix all the ingredients together using the flat beater until light and creamy – takes about 4 minutes and should look like whipped double cream when done. Pour into two greased and lined round tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown. A toothpick should come out of the centre clean when done. Cool on a wire rack and remove from the tins once you’re able to stand the heat.
Way no. 1 – Traditional buttercream filling with sweeties on top
200g soft salted butter
400g icing sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
Use the flat beater to cream the butter until soft and light – about 4 minutes. Then add the icing sugar spoon by spoon, mixing on a low speed until all incorporated, add the extract. Then beat on high for 7 minutes until the buttercream looks like mousse – flecked with air bubbles, then use to sandwich the cakes together. Place more buttercream on the top and add sweeties! I used Smarties and a plain tipped open nozzle to pipe the centre and topping. Oh and a couple of tablespoons of jam looks and tastes great too.
Way no. 2 – Cherry Bakewell ice-cream cake
3 tablespoons cherry conserve
A jar of morello cherries, drained
3 scoops vanilla ice-cream
5 heaped tablespooons icing sugar
50g toasted almonds
Add a teaspoon of almond extract to the cake mixture if you wish. Take the morello cherries and mix through the ice-cream with the flat beater – then pop back in the freezer to re-solidify. Spread the cake with the cherry conserve then add the ice-cream carefully. Add the second layer of cake and then mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice to a stiff paste and pour over the cake. Cover with flaked almonds and serve immediately!
Way no. 3 – Amaretto coffee after dinner cake
75mls Amaretto mixed into 75mls strong black coffee cooled
500mls double cream
Chocolate stars and sprinkles to decorate
Brush the sponge layers with the coffee amaretto mixture and then whisk the double cream on a medium speed with the wire whisk until just holding peaks. Sandwich the sponge together with cream then top with more cream and chocolate sprinkles.
Way no. 4 – Banoffee cake
500mls double cream
397g tin of caramel (or make your own)
2 bananas cut into slices and bathed in lemon juice
Chocolate shavings made by running a knife along a block of dark chocolate
Whisk the double cream on a medium speed with the wire whisk until just holding peaks. Sandwich the sponge together with the caramel, then a layer of banana slices and then a layer of cream. Repeat on the top. Add chocolate shavings and serve immediately.
Way no. 5 – Lemon drizzle curd cake
100mls lemon juice
100g castor sugar
The zest of one lemon
1 jar of lemon curd
500mls double cream
Add lemon zest to the cake mixture if you wish. Heat the lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan until all the sugar has dissolved and the sugar syrup is bubbling – takes about 2 minutes. Allow to cool and then brush over one layer of the sponge. Then use lemon curd to sandwich together, add whipped double cream if you like and then add the second layer of cake. Add more lemon sugar syrup and top with double cream and a teaspoon of lemon curd watered down to a pouring consistency (like single cream) and drizzled in circles over the cream. Use a toothpick to pull the circles out like a spiders web if you wish.
Things haven’t been great recently. That’s an understatement. I want to be one of those women who’s brave and pulls stoic faces when asked if she’s okay. Instead I cry and rub mascara over my puffy red rimmed eyes. After possibly the Worst Weekend ever, yesterday I managed to lock myself in the back garden. Yep. Quite a feat. I was trying to be upbeat and happy at the rays of sunshine beating down and so with washing basket in hand began putting all the wet clothes out. Because when clothes smell of fresh air everything feels better.
Five minutes later I’m trying to force the back door. As I’d shut it somehow the key I’d left in it (stupid, stupid, stupid thing to do) had turned and then fallen to the floor – inside the house. Locked out, in the back garden, with no phone and the only exit a locked 6ft gate framed by thorny trees.
Well I surprised myself. For a girl picked last for every netball and hockey match of my youth I did a pretty good job of climbing and jumping and running to a neighbour’s house. I was wasted on netball. I did cry though. Stoic I am not.
Comments, as always, welcomed. And yes, this is the meringue layer cake I made on QVC. I think it would be perfect for Mother’s Day.
Whisk your egg whites until beginning to hold their peaks. Then whisk in 1 teaspoon of the castor sugar at a time. I know this is laborious but if you rush it and throw the lot in you’re less likely to make sure it all dissolves into the egg and you might end up with weeping meringue. Might.
Once the sugar’s all in, the mixture should look really white and glossy, then add in the cornflour and white wine vinegar. Whisk again. The combination of these ingredients makes for a mallowy chewy middle to your meringue so whilst they’re desirable they’re not a reason to run to the local shops if you don’t have them.
Pop some foil or baking parchment on 3 baking trays, fixing down with a little sticky meringue. Then spoon a third of the meringue onto each tray and use the back of a spoon to rub into a flat circle shape. Try to get the circles about the same size.
Bake in a preheated oven at 140C, as soon as they go into the oven turn it down to about 100C, or 90C for a fan. Then after 45 minutes turn the oven off entirely but don’t open it.
About 35 minutes into baking I tend to open the oven door and have a little prod to make sure the oven has worked it’s magic and the outsides of the meringue are hard. If not they need a little longer than the aforementioned 45 minutes. Then I DO NOT OPEN the oven for the last ten minutes of baking. I turn the oven off and then leave the little snowy meringues to slowly come to room temperature for a few hours. Easier to just make these last thing at night and leave them until the morning in your oven.
Once completely cold use a little lemon curd to fix the largest meringue to your serving plate, then spread with more curd. Whip the double cream and add a third of it then sprinkle with a little coconut. Pop another meringue layer on the top and add lemon curd, cream and coconut and then repeat with the last meringue. Add a few raspberries and serve at once. This dessert does not like to be left about – beware collapse! Happy Mother’s Day all you Mums. x
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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