Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich

Mary Berry is one of the UK’s best known cookery writers, and is especially loved for her delicious cake recipes. She is one of the judges on The Great British Bake Off and I have to admit that this is where I first learned who she was!

Today I decided to bake a Mary Berry classic, “our traditional afternoon tea cake, named after Queen Victoria”, the Victoria Sandwich. The key to making a light and fluffy sponge is to cream the butter and sugar together, then add in the eggs bit by bit and then finally, carefully, fold in the flour.

Everything started off fine but as soon as I added in the eggs the mix started to look like it was about to curdle and I had a bit of panic – until I remembered what Simon Rimmer, the chef on Something for the Weekend, had said to Twiggy as she helped him make sticky toffee pudding on this morning’s show! He explained that to save the mixture just add a bit of the flour in and it will stop it from curdling. Thank goodness I was watching!

I did just that and the mix turned out fine, nice and smooth and creamy. I added it to the prepared baking tins and popped them in the oven for approx. 20 minutes.

My favourite bit about baking is still the same as it was when I was little – getting to taste the cake mixture that’s left on the wooden spoon – yum! I also love the smell of bread and cakes as they cook – it fills my flat with a lovely warm freshly baked cake smell, which on this particularly foggy, cold day is especially nice!

And this is the finished product:

I added raspberry jam to the middle and then sifted icing sugar over the top to finish it off. The sponge has turned out really light and moist so I’m really happy with how it worked.

This cake is simple and easy to make but it’s such a classic and so delicious that it’s always going to go down well!

creamy risotto

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything on baking, mainly due to a lack of funds for ingredients and quite a busy schedule, so I’ve decided to do a quick post about the dinner we had this evening.*

Sunday dinner is usually one of two things in our flat – a roast if we’ve been to Borough Market on the Saturday to find some nice meat from the butchers and lovely fresh veg, or a concoction created out of any leftovers/things we have in the cupboards – tonight was a leftover night! We’d had turkey escalopes earlier in the week and needed to use up the rest of the turkey. I knew we had some cream left in the fridge and some mushrooms so I decided to make a risotto as it’s a nice, easy dish where you can pretty much add anything in!

My recipe for Turkey and Mushroom Risotto uses the following:

1 onion finely sliced
1 garlic clove crushed
turkey breast sliced into thin strips
arborio rice
fresh/dried rosemary
veg/chicken stock approx. litre but use as required
single/double cream if you’d like
frozen peas 
mushrooms finely chopped

  • Chop the turkey breast into thin slices and gently fry in a pan with a small amount of oil. When the turkey has some colour on it, after about 5 minutes, add the sliced onion and then the crushed garlic.
  • Meanwhile, boil a kettle and then add the hot water to a jug with a stock cube in or, if you make your own stock, then heat about a litre of it in a pan.
  • Once the onions have softened and the turkey is cooked through, add the arborio rice to the pan and stir for about a minute to absorb all the juices from the cooking turkey, onion and garlic. Then slowly start adding in the stock, a small amount at a time, constantly stirring. At this point, sprinkle some rosemary and black pepper into the dish to give it some extra flavour.
  • The rice will start to absorb the stock and needs quite a bit of attention with the stirring to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the stock and keep topping up as the rice absorbs it. Halfway through, add the mushrooms and stir into the dish.
  • Every few minutes give the rice a taste to judge how soft it’s getting, you want it to be nice and soft and creamy. At this point, add in the peas. The dish should have absorbed all of the stock and be full of flavour – I like to add a drizzle of cream right at the end to give it an extra richness!

I love risotto as you really can add in whatever you have in the fridge and it always tastes delicious – just make sure you have a box of arborio rice in the cupboard!

This dish would also work well with leftover roast chicken and a bit of white wine added in to give it some extra richness or maybe some pork or just keep it simple with mushrooms, peas, spinach and some parmesan, easy peasy 🙂

* I appreciate that risotto isn’t baking but it was the only thing I had cooked recently and thought I’d share its yumminess! 🙂