Celebration cakes

I know it’s February – how did that happen?

It’s blowing a gale outside and we are still comfort eating as we never really got going with Veganuary, nor ‘dry’ January.  In part, this was because January was a difficult month for the Campbell family, as early in we lost our most senior member, John Campbell, aka Papa at the mighty age of 91!  On 21 January we all gathered for a wonderful celebration of his life in his home city of Edinburgh.  We raised a glass to him and ate his favourite cake – Victoria Sandwich, at his favourite place, Inverleith – the home of Stewart’s Melville rugby. 

And now time is racing on and we are trying to get back to normal before the new tourist season begins. We have had a few guests staying with us at Powdermills B&B during this time and I have been baking cakes.  I’m also on a mission to expand my limited range of ‘welcome’ home baking.  

The trusty stalwarts that I produce, courtesy of ‘Delia Smith’s ‘The Complete Cookery Course,’ published in 1982, are fruit scones and Victoria sandwiches, with a chocolate version every now and again.  And that’s it.  A limited range one might say, and one that doesn’t give much variety to anyone staying longer than three nights!!   

I would argue that there is nothing that can beat a well-made (and I am not laying any claims to my cakes being well-made!) than a Victoria Sandwich or a Victoria Sponge, as Delia calls her cake.  

It is a cake that can elicit much discussion on making it.  Do you use butter or margarine?  Can you use whole wheat flour?  Is beating the eggs and fat by hand the best method and should you omit vanilla essence when adding chocolate powder for a chocolate version? 

When all is said and done, Delia’s ‘All-in-one Sponge’ is a great recipe.  It is easy.  Its ‘piece de la resistance’ is with the simple addition of jam sandwiched in between (I think that this must be strawberry), a dusting icing sugar on the top, its ensemble is hard to trounce. 

But just now, I am not inclined to vary my cake range, even when going through Delia’s book with its no end of cake recipes that I am tempted by – oatmeal parkin for one. 

And I do think her ‘Chocolate and sour cream filling’ as a less sweet alternative to using butter cream in a chocolate Victoria sponge is delicious.  So that’s enough cake radicalism and in memory of Papa, I’ll keep on making the classic for a little bit longer, if you don’t mind?