Last week I was teaching at the Central Market Cooking Schools around Texas, which involved many airplane rides. With Easter hot on my heels, I was looking for some treats to make for my own family. (They feel abandoned at times!)
I pulled a few of copies of 'Lunds and Byerly's Real Food' from my magazine library and read them again from cover to cover. Reading through the Spring edition from 2011 I came across an article by Sarah Randell (English Cookbook Author)
This article and it's recipes spoke to me as it reminded me of my homeland and my mothers baking. I had found my treats to bake for Easter. Here, in an American magazine lay European cake recipes that I was more than familiar with and it was the 'Victoria Sandwich with Fresh Mint and Strawberries' that captured my attention for it was this time honored recipe that my mother and grandmother made for us again and again. It was indeed an old recipe but would be a new one for my friends and family.
The cake layers for this classic English cake are best eaten as fresh as possible.
14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened,plus enough for tins
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups self raising flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
confectioners sugar for dusting
1 pint strawberries
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
grated peel of 1 unwaxed lemon
2/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup mascarpone, chilled
1 tablespoon mint leaves, shredded
1. For cake: Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Put butter and sugar in an electric mixer (or use a large mixing bowl and an electric whisk) and beat 3 to 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Gradually add eggs with beaters still running, followed by vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
NOTE I use 'Kerrygold Unsalted Butter' so the color of the batter is different if you use domestic butter.
3. Spoon batter into prepared pans and spread evenly with a spatula.
4. Bake 25 minutes, or until lightly golden and risen. Let cool in pans 30 minutes. Tip cake layers out onto a wire rack and peel off parchment. Let cool completely.
5. For filling: Hull and thinly slice strawberries, then mix in a bowl with 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar and lemon peel. Let macerate for 30 minutes. In another bowl, use a balloon whisk to whisk creme fraiche and mascarpone together until smooth. Stir in remaining confectioners sugar and shredded mint.
6. To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread creamy filling over top. Scatter strawberries over filling. Place other cake on top and dust with confectioners sugar.