The Cook's Column
Feeding the Family with Mrs Simkins Jubilee Tea-Party
WHETHER you are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with a posh afternoon tea at home or going to a street party, here are some fitting cakes to bake for the occasion. All are based on the Queen's personal favourites and are sure to please all ages.
Royal Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Approx 150g (5oz) Rich Tea biscuits
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75g (3oz) butter, diced
3 tbs golden syrup
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
50g (2oz) dried cherries
Plus: 100g dark chocolate
15g (½oz) butter, diced
You will need a lightly greased 1 pint (0.5 litre) pudding basin, lined with cling film
Break the biscuits into pieces. Melt the syrup and butter in a pan. Stir in the biscuits, cocoa and dried cherries and mix thoroughly.
Pile the mixture into the lined basin, smoothing it down with the back of a metal spoon: it helps if the spoon is wet. Make sure the bottom is level as this will be the base of the cake.
Chill in the fridge for 3 hours or more.
Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl. Melt in the microwave on High, in 30 second bursts: it will take a couple of minutes in all.
(Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.)
Stir the butter into the chocolate once almost melted.
Loosen the cake with a small palette knife and ease from the basin. Remove the cling film. Stand it flat side down on greaseproof paper. Pour the chocolate slowly over the top and smooth down the sides.
Adorn with suitable decorations such as sugar flowers and little flags, before the chocolate sets. Once set, trim excess chocolate from the bottom with a sharp knife and peel off the paper. Store cool and covered.
Victoria Sponge Sandwich
Use a food processor or electric hand whisk to whip up this royal favourite.
175g (6oz) softened butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) plain flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsp cream of tartar
3 medium eggs
2 tbs milk
Seedless raspberry jam and icing sugar to finish
Preheat oven to (160-180C fan ovens) or equivalent. You will need 2 x greased 18cm (7 inch) loose bottomed sandwich tins. Cream or whiz the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sieve in the flour with the raising agents and add the eggs. Whisk or whiz again. Add the milk and whisk or whiz until smooth and glossy. Pour into the prepared cake tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to rest for a few moments then carefully loosen the edges with a small palette knife. Transfer to a cooling rack using a large palette knife to loosen the bottoms. Once the cakes are cool, spread one with jam and sit the other on top. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.
Mini Victoria Sponges
Make 15-16 mini-versions of the above using 2 x greased 12 cup muffin tins. Preheat oven to (160C fan ovens) or equivalent. Make up the mixture as before and divide between the cups of the prepared tins. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to rest for a few moments then carefully loosen from the cups with a small palette knife and transfer to a cooling rack. Once cool, split and sandwich with jam. Dust with icing sugar.
Use a roomy pan to do all your mixing in it and save washing up.
175g (6oz) butter, salted
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
225g (8oz) raisins and plenty of sultanas
50g dried cherries, if available, or used dried cranberries
120ml cold water
Zest of 1 orange: zested in short brisk motions to avoid long strands
25g finely chopped candied orange peel, if available
175g (6oz) plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
50g (2oz) ground almonds
3 med eggs, lightly beaten
50g blanched almonds
You will need a greased and lined 20cm (8 inch) loose bottomed cake tin. Preheat oven to 150C (fan oven) or equivalent. Cut the butter into small pieces and put into a saucepan with the sugar, water and dried fruit, including the dried cherries or cranberries. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the whisky and leave to cool. Once cooled, stir in the orange zest and candied peel. Add the baking powder to the weighed flour and sieve some over the mixture. Stir in the eggs one at a time, adding more flour with each egg. Add the rest of the flour and the ground almonds. Mix everything together thoroughly. Spoon into the prepared tin and arrange the almonds in circles on top. Start with the outer circle and work towards the centre. Cover loosely with greaseproof paper and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.
Make sure each almond is lined up exactly with the ones above and below it and that it's not positioned too close to its neighbours –don't stagger the lines as if you were laying bricks. This is so you can get the knife in easily between the almonds when you cut the cake.