Finally nailed Victoria Sponge…

I’ve been trying for ages to make a decent Victoria Sponge. It’s a classic, and nothing (apart from maybe a scone with jam and clotted cream!) goes better with a cup of tea. Unfortunately, I’ve not managed up until now to get it to rise properly – it tasted great but was a bit dense. I made a couple of changes this time which made all the difference – I sifted the flour and the sugar to let a bit more air in, I blasted it with an electric whisk, and I cooked it a bit lower. Seemed to work, it’s the best yet!

200g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
A good splash of vanilla essence
4 eggs
200g Sainsbury’s free-from spread or equivalent, softened
2 tablespoons of milk (rice, almond, soya etc)
Strawberry jam (or another fruit if you prefer!)

Turn your oven on – 170 for a fan oven, about 180 for a normal one. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl. Beat the eggs separately and then add in. Add the softened spread, milk and vanilla and blast with an electric whisk (mix it in a bit first to make sure you don’t spray the kitchen with flour!).

Divide into two greased round cake tins and bake for about 20 minutes. I guess you could do one large one and slice it to jam it but you’d probably have to cook it longer. Get the cakes out of the tins as soon as you can, leave to cool, spread one with jam and stick them together. Slice and we’ve – and don’t forget your cup of tea!

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‘Bacon’ brownies

OK, so these aren’t actually made with bacon. I’ve called them Bacon Brownies in  honour of Sarah from my team at work. When she interviewed with us, her ever so slightly northern accent led us to believe she loved ‘bacon’ rather than ‘baking’, which was what she actually said. Anyway, she got through the interview and joined us – and decided to bake us these brownies to prove she wasn’t lying on her CV. They were excellent, so in my attempt to learn to bake I asked for the recipe – so here we go! I’ve made a couple of amendments to the original recipe (in brackets) to render it dairy-free.

Makes about 16 brownies depending on how big you cut them:

75g plain flour

50g cocoa powder

125g caster sugar

50g low fat spread (I used Sainsbury’s FreeFrom which worked perfectly) (plus a smidgen for greasing)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I always go heavy on the vanilla extract so a bit more wouldn’t do any harm!)

50g pitted soft prunes (next time I will soak the prunes in hot water before adding for extra moistness. Or I might try cranberries instead. Or both!)

50g Maltesers (I used 70% dark chocolate – actually works really well and lends it an ‘adult’ richness)

2 eggs

1)            Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a square tin (19cm) with a smidgen of the spread

2)            Sift both the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, adding the sugar and vanilla extract

3)            Crush the Malteasers (Sarah placed them in a sandwich bag and crushed with a rolling pin) and add these to the bowl – if using the chocolate chop it finely or if you can be bothered grate some of it

4)            Chop the prunes finely and add to the bowl

5)            Melt the spread in pan and add this to the bowl along with the beaten eggs

6)            Mix thoroughly and spoon mixture into tin

7)            Place in the oven for 15-20, letting them cool for 10 minutes once removed

8)            Cut into squares and enjoy!

Thanks for your contribution, Sarah!

(photo of my brownies first, Sarah’s second)

'Bacon' Brownies

Sarah's brownies