The below recipes were developed for a weekend edition of Mid-Day, a daily newspaper in Mumbai.
Victoria Sandwich with Strawberry, Amla and Ginger jam
Years ago when I was still studying in London, a midnight treat would usually mean cutting myself a slice of shop-bought Victoria sponge cake. Two rather thick, buttery pound cakes sandwiched with cream and tart jam went down splendidly with bitter black coffee. Every year since, I make myself this regal English favourite, but always play around with seasonal fillings.
The Victoria sponge is not a sponge, in the sense that it’s not a chiffon or angel food cake that require the eggs to be separated. It’s a pound cake, so the recipe is pretty straightforward. For the jam, Amla has pectin in it naturally, so the jam sets well. Adding ginger to the jam just takes it to the next level.
For the cakes:
Salted Butter 175g, softened, plus extra for greasing (I never bother with unsalted)
Caster sugar 175g
Self-raising flour 175g (if you don’t have self-raising flour, make your own. To every cup of maida, whisk in 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt a pinch
Milk 2 tbsp
For the filling:
Non-dairy whipping cream 110ml (Rich’s cream or Tropolite)
Strawberries 1 cup, chopped into small pieces
Amla 1 cup, cut around the seed, chopped into small pieces
Ginger 2 tsp
Sugar 1 and 3/4th cup
Clove 1/8 tsp, toasted, then powdered (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius regular or 160 degrees celsius fan. Grease the insides of two round cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.
Start by creaming the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Whisk all the eggs together and slowly add them to the butter and sugar mixture, beating it in. In another mixing bowl, add the flour and baking powder and run a whisk through it a few times.
Add the flour to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture, splash in the milk and fold gently to incorporate everything together.
Divide the batter between the two cake tins and place in the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean/ when it is springy to touch. Let the cakes cool in their tins for ten minutes before running a knife around the cake to loosen it from the edges of the tin. Unmould the cakes and let it cool completely.
For the jam, set a plate with some spoons in the freezer. Next, in a medium sized heavy bottomed pan, add the chopped, strawberries, amla, the cloves if adding, and the ginger and let it cook over high heat till it has almost disintegrated. Add in the sugar and stir at intervals till the jam starts to foam. At this stage, you want to spoon a bit out into one of the metal spoons and let it sit in the freezer for five minutes. After five minutes you’ll be able to tell what the final texture will be like. For this cake we want a slightly runny jam because it’s like a delicious sauce and the cream just rounds up the whole flavour. Keep testing every five minutes till you reach the desired consistency. Lower the heat if necessary, you don’t want any scorching to happen.
Decant the hot jam in sterilised jars, remove any air bubbles that rise to the top as it cools, then bottle the cooled jam and use as needed.
Thaw the whipping cream for ten minutes, then empty it into a mixing bowl and using a hand-mixer, whisk the cream to stiff peaks.
Trim the cakes if necessary and once you have two uniform flat layers, lay one of them on a plate and slather on a thick layer of the cream. Spoon over about 4 heaped tablespoonfuls of the jam on top of the cream and sandwich with the second layer. Dust the top of the cake with some icing sugar and finish with strawberries.
Raw Mango Curd
The season is right to turn your favourite citron into a luxurious buttery curd, but before you go on to make orange curd tartlets or a lemon curd layer cake, try my recipe for a Raw Mango curd. It comes together in fifteen minutes and it’s a real game changer!
Raw Mango 1, large, finely grated
Caster sugar 150g
Egg Yolk 1
In a saucepan, put the butter, sugar, raw mango over a low heat till all the butter has melted. Stir it a few times.
Beat together the eggs and the egg yolk vigorously.
Take the pan off the heat and pour in the beaten eggs, stirring all the time to prevent the mixture from scrambling. If it does scramble, don’t worry, you can still push it through a sieve.
Let the mixture thicken till it coats the back of a spoon. Once it does, remove from the heat and pour it into a sterilised jar and let it cool.
Enjoy this with shortbread biscuits or spread over toast.