Summer baking .

Strawberries to me say “summer”, I have very fond memories as a child of my parents stopping on the side of the road to buy glorious Punnets of them and devouring them on our onwards journey . Their season is so short, we must make good use of them while they are in season , and I mean only the Irish variety !!!
They can be used in savory as well as sweet dishes , delicious in a salad with a balsamic vingrette .

One of my favorite ways to use them is in a Victoria sponge, with strawberry jam and fresh vanilla cream , heaven !!

You can buy some really wonderful artisan jam’s so no need to make your own , just make sure to use a good quality one .

I scrape the seeds of a vanilla pod into my cream , love the black speckles through the cream and the flavor is more intense .

Strawberries & cream Victoria sponge.

Ingredients .

6 oz soft butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 free range eggs
6 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 dsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries
Cream
Vanilla pod
Icing sugar , for dusting

Method.
Pre heat oven 180oc .
Grease and line two 9” Victoria sandwich tins .
Place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer , beat until pale, light and fluffy. Add an egg followed by a little flour, scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula , continue to beat in the remaining eggs and flour . Add the milk and vanilla extract . Divide the mix between the two prepared tins and smooth surface with the back of a spoon or metal spatula . Bake in pre heated oven until lightly golden and cake starts to come away from the edges . 12-15 mins .

Cool on a wire rack . Don’t remove parchment until completly cool .
Place cakes parchment side down so you don’t get the wire rack marks on top of cake.

To assemble cake , whip cream and scrape in the seeds of the vanilla pod . Half of the pod should be enough . Slice about 6 strawberries and leave to one side .

Remove the parchment from one of the cakes and place on cake stand or plate , parchment side up . Spread generously with strawberry jam right to the edges , add cream followed by sliced strawberries . Remove paper from the other cake and place on top .
You can just dust the cake with icing sugar to finish or pipe a little bit of left over cream in little rosettes on top followed by a strawberry half for garnish .

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