This very British summertime twist on the classic Victoria Sandwich cake is the perfect dessert or afternoon tea treat during strawberry season.
- 170g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour
- 170g (6 oz) Caster (Granulated) Sugar
- 170g (6 oz) Margarine
- 3 Large Eggs
- Hot Water
- 150ml (5 fl oz) Whipping Cream
- Zest of 1/4 Lemon
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
- 100g (4 oz) Strawberries, roughly chopped
- 50g (2 oz) Raspberries
- 50g (2 oz) Meringue, roughly crumbled
- Icing Sugar (optional, to decorate)
- To make the sponge, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 Fahrenheit).
- Lightly grease two 6 1/2 inch sandwich tins (16-17 cm, but 20cm standard is also okay) with a little butter or margarine and place a small circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each one.
- Beat together the caster sugar and margarine until it is all combined and it has lightened in colour.
- Beat the eggs and a splash of vanilla into the sugar and margarine until the mixture is smooth. If it looks like it may have curdled (how milk looks like when it has gone off), don’t panic. Just add a teaspoon of your measured out flour and it should come good.
- Fold the flour into the mixture. Folding is essentially drawing the spoon down the middle of the bowl as if cutting the mixture, and bringing it, scooping mixture up around the edge of the bowl up to the top again, then repeating until all the flour is combined. Doing this instead of just mixing the flour in ensures the air from beating stays in your cake so you will achieve the lightest sponge as possible.
- Beat a tablespoon of just boiled water into the mixture.
- Equally divide the cake mix between the two tins, using a spatula to make sure the tops are even and flat (so you have an even bake) and all the mixture is pushed right to the edge of your tin. Tap each tin firmly on your work surface a few times to make sure you have no air bubbles.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown, spring back lightly to the touch and you should be able to insert a cake tester or a cocktail stick into your sponge and it to come away clean. So your sponge does not sink when it is coming out the oven make sure all your kitchen doors are closed so you can keep a constant temperature until the cake is out of its tin.
- As soon as you have removed it from the oven gently run a very sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the cake to make sure it does not stick to the sides. The sponge should spring back slightly as it cools. Choose the better looking sponge to be your top. Turn this one out of the tin by placing your hand over the top, turning it upside down, pulling off the tin and the paper and putting it back down on a wire cooling rack, top side up. Place do the dame but place the bottom layer of your sandwich top side down.
- To make the Eton Mess filling, in a large bowl using an electric whisk (I use this one) beat half a tub (150ml) of whipping cream with the lemon zest and vanilla bean paste until it just holds its shape.
- Fold the strawberries, along with the raspberries into the cream. If you like, keep some strawberry pieces back to decorate the top of the cake and the cream around the sides.
- When you’re ready to serve, fold the meringue into the cream, and spread most of it evenly across the top of the bottom sponge. Dollop the rest in the middle (so you have an even cake when you press down on the top) and gently sandwich the lid on top.
- Dredge the top of the cake with icing sugar pressed through a sieve, and bring to the table immediately.
If you don’t have any fresh lemons to hand and you’re making this cake for adults, a splash of Limoncello in the cream would make a great substitute.