Classic Victoria Sponge for the Queen’s 90th birthday

Happy 90th Birthday to Her Majesty the Queen!

The celebrations to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th continue. I was lucky enough in May to go to Windsor Castle to the spectacular event staged to celebrate this momentous occasion there.
All over the land we will be gathering on June 12th – how we do love a street party! Several thousands will gather along the Mall and many more of us in all corners of the land, in towns and villages. In true British style, we will not be deterred by the weather but, of course, we hope the sun will make an appearance!

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One of the simplest ever, and most delicious of cakes is our much loved Victoria Sponge. Named after Queen Victoria as it is reputed that she enjoyed a slice or two with her afternoon cup of tea.
Why not make one for your celebrations – my all in one method is simplicity itself. Follow my step by step instructions and tips and you will be delighted with your cake. And try to bake it fresh on the day – it really is hard to beat!

6 Tips to baking a successful cake:

1. Use the very best ingredients and the freshest of eggs.
2. Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature – NOT straight from the fridge and the butter is soft.
3. Preheat oven to the correct temperature before you begin.
4. Do not over mix – stop when everything is just combined together.
5. Once mixture is in the tins, don’t hang around – pop it in the oven straight away.
6. Leave cakes until completely cold before filling

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CLASSIC VICTORIA SPONGE – serves 8

FOR THE CAKE
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING
150ml double cream
4 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 170C/350F/gas mark 4.

You can choose to cook this cake either in 1 x 20cm sandwich tin or in 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Butter the tin or tins, then line the bases with baking parchment. If you use just 1 tin, line the sides with a 7cm-high collar of baking parchment as well, to allow for the rise.

For this batter, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but use a food processor, or a bowl and an electric whisk, if you want.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the butter (in knobs), the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat together until thoroughly blended, taking care not to over-mix so you will have a light sponge. Scrape the batter into the tin or tins and level the top.

Bake for 20–25 minutes if you are using 2 tins, or 30–35 minutes for 1 tin, until the cake springs back to the touch or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes, then run a knife around the rim to loosen the cake from the tin and turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the paper and leave until completely cold.

Lightly whip the cream until just thickened into soft peaks. If you have baked the cake in 1 tin, split in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Fill with jam and cream and sandwich together, so the cream forms the uppermost layer. If you have baked the cake in 2 tins, be sure to sandwich the flat bases together. Dust the top with icing sugar.

Here, I have spread a little whipped cream on top of my Victoria cake and a scattering of sliced strawberries and blueberries. Perfect for a street party!

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Bake & Decorate by Fiona Cairns (published by Quadrille)

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Harrods Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration Tea with Fiona Cairns

For a very special treat, why not pop along to Harrods for an exclusive afternoon tea to celebrate Her Majesty the Queens 90th . We are incredibly excited to be contributing to Harrods celebration in honour of this special occasion and we have created five quintessentially British afternoon tea delights inspired by the Queen. London foodies will also be offered a complimentary corgi shaped vanilla shortbread, inspired by the Queens first pet corgi Susan, decorated with royal icing and a piped patriotic collar.

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration Tea includes delicious sandwiches, scones and jam, and is available in The Georgian restaurant on the fourth floor of Harrods from 10 th to 19 th June 2016. The tea is £39 per person and £49.50 per person for the champagne tea. To book please contact: +44 20 7225 6800 or email: reservations@harrods.com.

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