I love a good cake and they don't get much better than a classic Victoria sponge. It's got all you need in a cake; light, sweet, buttery sponge with fruity, slightly sharp jam sticking it all together. It is debated which jam is the best; strawberry, raspberry or even blackcurrant. Strawberry would always win for me and when I saw a lonely punnet of English strawberries at the greengrocer's I had to buy it. After debating what to make with my edible purchase I set about putting a twist on this traditional cake.
You will need:
3 eggs, beaten
Butter, at room temperature
Self raising flour
1 punnet of ripe strawberries
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
I use the tried and tested method of weighing your eggs and then weighing the butter, sugar and flour to the same weight. It always works for me. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then add the eggs bit by bit and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and then put into two greased 7 inch sandwich tins and bake at 170C for 25-30 minutes. If you press your finger lightly to the top of the cake it should spring back when done.
I made jam once before and it took forever. There's only so long you can stand with a sugar thermometer in a pan of boiling fruit before you start to think that runny jam won't be all that bad. I'm glad I persevered with my preserve as it was wonderful but such a faff. I wasn't about to go through it all again so I sort of cheated a little bit by making less jam than necessary and topping it up with some pre-existing.
Remove the green parts of the strawberries and cut into quarters. Put them into a saucepan with a sprinkling of sugar and heat gently until you have a strawberry mush. You can of course use a masher to speed things up a little. Add the balsamic vinegar and then cook on a high heat until it's thickened. Remove it from the heat and leave it to cool a little before mixing in a little readymade strawberry jam. If you do it this way it doesn't matter if the balsamic strawberries are a little thin as the pre-made jam should help keep everything nice and sticky.
When the sponges have cooled, ladle on the balsamic strawberry jam and stick the two halves together. I'm not sure whether icing or caster sugar should top the cake but I went for icing sugar; it's more romantic somehow.
There's nothing quite the same as a homemade cake; the smell that fills the house and creates such anticipation and when it is finally rewarded. This cake was divine, perhaps not perfect, it was just what I wanted it to be. It had a long-established, recognisable flavour with new interest and intrigue at the same time. The balsamic strawberry jam added not only extra tartness but also additional fruitiness and depth. It was a cake that mixed the well known with the new and one I will definitely be making again.