VICTORIA SPONGE MINI-CAKES

I made these cakes in November 2019, if you can believe it… Sometimes things take their sweet time to go from a folder with pictures to the blog post. Victoria Sponge is a true classic from the UK, named after Queen Victoria, because it was her favorite sweet to enjoy during afternoon tea. It is a sandwich type cake with strawberry jam, often whipped cream, and usually not iced, the top and sides left naked. Many variations exist, I am sharing a version that makes them in individual format. I find them irresistibly cute.

VICTORIA SPONGE MINI-CAKES
(adapted from this article)

175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g all-purpose flour
1 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

whipped cream lightly sweetened
strawberry jam

Heat the oven to 350°F. Very lightly grease the molds of a mini-cake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing gently until smooth. Fill the mini-cake mold, each cavity 3/4 full, no more than that. You should have enough for 12 mini-cakes. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden, well risen and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.


Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then ease out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until completely cool. Cut each cake in half, and pipe the whipped cream onto the bases, in dots. Drizzle the jam over the buttercream dots, place the sponge tops on and lightly dust the cakes with icing sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had to play around with the recipe a bit to get it right, adjusting the baking powder amount and not filling the mold to the top, so that the doming was just right. It was a huge hit with our departmental colleagues, I got several emails about it. The cake is tender and moist. The original recipe called for American buttercream for the filling, but I decided to go with whipped cream, stabilized with gelatin. Follow the recipe from this link. For the pan, I used this one. At the time I bought it on ebay, but could not find it available right now.

I think whipped cream is less sweet and makes the cake feel a bit lighter, but if you prefer to go with buttercream, follow the original recipe in the link I included.

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STRAWBERRY MINI-CAKES FOR BAKE PINK PROJECT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am joining Chef Colette Christian in her Bake Pink Project. I don’t know how many dear friends and acquaintances of mine have been affected by breast (and other) cancers, but far too many.  In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime, with early detection being KEY to survival. In other words, get screened annually, and talk to all your friends to make sure they do the same.

I’ve never met Chef Colette in person. But I know for a fact she is one of the nicest human beings around. I will talk more about it in a few months, for reasons that will become clear by then. For now, let me just say she is a fantastic online instructor who is responsible for me finally conquering macarons a few years ago (check her 6 classes at Bluprint, all pretty amazing). Once I got addicted to baking macarons, my horizons were opened to other kinds of patisserie. In many ways, I think Colette is the person who helped me go from cake-o-phobe to passionate baker.  She is winning her own battle with breast cancer, and I am absolutely thrilled to join her BAKE PINK project. Today I share a recipe for a cake I recently enjoyed at Ottolenghi’s cafe in London.  It is pink, it is delicious, and quite simple to put together.

STRAWBERRY-VANILLA MINI-CAKES
(slightly modified from Ottolenghi’s Sweet)

recipe also available online here

for the cake:
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
120 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
140 g almond flour
15 oz fresh strawberries, hulled cut in half
1 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry icing:
55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
300 g icing sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

to decorate:
whole strawberries
freeze-dried strawberries
sprinkles

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Start by making the roasted strawberries, preferably many hours in advance, or the day before.  Mix the strawberries with olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the edges start to get dark and the liquid gets thick. Do not let the strawberries burn or get too dry.  Reserve. Dice before using in the recipe. If there is excessive liquid, drain it.

Prepare four mini-loaf pans by coating them with butter and flour or using a baking spray.

Make the cake batter. Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time. Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond flour. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced roasted strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth. Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: While in London, I really wanted to stop by Ottolenghi’s place, but since my schedule was quite tight, I was worried it would not happen. So one afternoon I was all by myself and realized I barely had the time to catch the tube and get to the cafe before closing time. When I got there, I could not sit down for an early dinner because they were just getting ready to call it a day, so I was a bit frantic trying to decide what to get. From the corner of my eye I saw some cute mini-loaf cakes, and that’s what I bought. My plan was to travel back to the hotel and have it as my dinner. But it could not hurt to take a test-bite as I walked back to the metro station, right?  Right. Problem is, I could not stop eating it. Moist, sweet, but also tangy with the strawberry taste. It was so so good… The sweetest walk ever through Notting Hill.

Of course, it is often problematic to try to match the great things we stumble upon like that. But I have to say, the ones I baked at home were pretty close to that level of goodness. I opted to roast the strawberries because at this time of the year they are not at their peak, and also because roasting will always intensify the flavor, so why not? It is just a small additional step that I think pays off big time here.

Chef Colette, thank you for Baking Pink, and for all the help and advice you’ve given me this past few months.  You are a sweet and bright person…

And for all my readers and fellow bloggers, let’s do all we can to raise awareness about breast cancer, it is a serious killer that can be tamed by early detection.

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