Baking on a narrowboat named "One Thing After Another"
It’s been such a long time since I last posted.I’ve been so busy with one thing or another as well as preparing the boat for winter and getting plenty of solid fuel to keep the log burner going – that the days just fly by and there’s hardly any time to post about what I’ve baked or made that day. I will try and do a catch up in the next few days hopefully – although the posts are very time consuming, mostly trying to decide on which pictures to use in a blog post. I always take hundreds when I’m baking and then have the task of deciding which ones to use!
So, yes, the boat is all ready for winter – we even built a log store to store logs for the winter although we’ve already got through them at quite a pace already! We are on a new mooring for this winter. It’s a place where we also have about own piece of land with it so having a log store was definitely in order this year! We burn coal mostly, but its good to burn wood too – you get the instant heat from the wood that you don’t get from coal until it’s been burning for quite a while.
Here is our log store, I think its quite impressive to say we made it from scrap wood and pallets:(!)
Oh, and for those of you wondering – yes that boat next to the store is ours and where all the baking magic happens! If you take a look around the tree – those are my herbs. Thyme, mint, oregano, basil, rosemary and parsley were all ones I grew this year and most are still doing fine despite the plunge in temperatures lately.
Anyway, this post is for a Victoria Sandwich, so lets get on with business…
A Victoria Sandwich is an all rounder – who doesn’t love a piece?!! There are some people who say it’s a tricky one to make – it can be too dry, not rise enough etc etc and then there are those that say it’s one of the simplest cakes around. I’ve not checked my history but off the top of my head – wasn’t it originally invented during Queen Victoria’s reign as she was always hungry between lunch and evening dinner and she wanted something to go with afternoon tea? (or tea time)
If I remember learning correctly, she instructed the kitchen staff to make something to go with tea and they created this cake – using basically what was available in the pantry. Well, what a winner!
I always say, leave a classic as a classic and don’t try and change it – you’ll never win over the taste buds of people who’ve become accustomed to it. However, I break my own rule with this one. As much as I love a Victoria Sandwich just as it is, I have made a small teak or two with this one which I think just enhances its specialness.
A simple addition of the zest of an orange and a few tablespoons of ground almonds….is all it takes!
For the buttercream filling:
1. Preheat your oven to 190c/ Gas Mark 5. Grease and line (or grease and dust with flour) two 8″ sandwich tins. Make sure all your ingredients are really room temperature
2. In the bowl of your mixer or a large bowl it beating by hand, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. It’s beaten enough when the butter and sugar mix is a lovely pastel yellow colour.
3. Next, add the eggs one at a time along with a tablespoon of flour for each egg, beating well between each addition.
4. Finally, add the remaining ingredients. Delegate well! Get your assistant to grate in the orange zest. Mix the ingredients together just until you have a smooth, soft batter – don’t over mix. This will result in gluten developing in the flour and then your cake will be tough and bread like. Yuk!
5. Divide the cake mixture between the two tins, smoothing the surface but making a little indentation in the middle of each cake (this means the middle won’t pop up so much and it’ll have a more uniform appearance.) 6. Bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake resists when you press it – alternatively a toothpick should come out clean. Leave to cool for around 10 minutes in the tin and then turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool to room temperature.
To make the buttercream filling:
1. Again, make sure your butter is really room temperature – you’ll never make a smooth icing with fridge cold butter no matter how much you beat it! Beat the butter until smooth then gradually beat in the icing sugar – if using a food mixer, its best to use the splash guard otherwise you’ll be left in a cloud of icing sugar dust, which sounds fantastic and fairy-tale like, but it really isn’t when it comes to clean up!
2. Add in vanilla extract and keep beating until smooth.
3. Place one of your sponges onto your serving plate, and place strips of greaseproof paper just underneath to catch any drips and keep your plate clean until serving. Spread the buttercream over the first sponge, but leave just over half an inch all the way around the edge – when you press the lid on it will distribute the cream and jam to the edges, but without spilling out.
4. Top the buttercream with the jam and then sandwich the second sponge on top, pressing lightly to ensure the buttercream and jam just reaches the edges.
5. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving – keep it simple or do something a bit more decorative. I chose to do some random stripes in a sort of geometric design using greaseproof paper. It keeps a classic looking fresh…
6. Serve and enjoy. The good thing about this version is it keeps a bit longer than other recipes. I find its the addition of the ground almonds which means it should be good for 4-5 days as long as it’s well wrapped – and if you can resist it for that long, of course!