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Bookish Bites : The Baby’s Catalogue pink Victoria sponge cake

I really do think that Janet and Alan Ahlberg are going to feature very regularly here on Bookish Bites. Not just because we have a lot of their books, but also because cake features so very prominently in them. The Baby’s Catalogue probably has more subtle cake references than their other books, so I think it will take a while to work our way through.

We bought The Baby’s Catalogue when Milo was indeed a baby. The minimal text is always appealing for a baby, especially when they are learning to recognise names and shapes of things, but even now when he has the capacity to sit through longer stories and knows what almost everything is, we love to share this book and fill in the gaps the text leaves for us.

For this week’s Bookish Bites Milo and I sat down and looked at the page with Teas on it. I ruled out Battenburg for this time round as I’ve made a lot of that in the past, but asked Milo which of the other cakes he like the look of.

Well, to me that looks like a Victoria Sponge Cake with cream and jam filling and pink buttercream icing on. Easy and yum! I’ve tried a lot of recipes for a good sponge cake in the past and really, you should not use anything less than 3 eggs so here’s how we make ours:

For an 7-8 inch round cake tin:
6 oz self-raising flour
6 oz very soft butter
6 oz golden caster sugar or 3 oz of vanilla sugar (for baking I would literally add one cut vanilla pod to about a jar of caster or granulated sugar) with 3 oz of plain caster sugar. If you are using vanilla sugar  you don’t need to add the vanilla extract.
a teaspoon baking powder
3 – 4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or flavouring

You can either mix the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs slowly ensuring they don’t curdle (do by hand to ensure or add a little flour if they look like they might), followed by the flour sifted high over the bowl, baking powder and vanilla, or, you can do what we did and just bung everything in the mixer and go for it. Milo was feeling a little poorly and tired otherwise we’d have probably done it by hand as he likes mixing by hand.

 

Once your sponges are cool layer one with whipped cream, and the other with jam – we used strawberry jam. Milo helped spread it on and kept sticking his finger in his mouth so the cake at this point, was already of dubious hygiene at this point. Ah, cooking with a two and a half year old! Then sandwich together.

Next, the buttercream icing. General rule is half quantity butter to sieved icing sugar. We used 2oz very soft butter to 4oz icing sugar. I use a couple of tablespoons of milk if necessary to soften it and then just mix away for at least five minutes, covering the mixer with a few tea towels so you don’t cover your kitchen with icing sugar powder. Add some pink food colouring until it resembles Janet Ahlberg’s illustration. Ours didn’t need much, just a few drops. Then spread over the top of the cake.

There is no occasion where I don’t think a pretty cake stand isn’t important. And a picnic tea in the garden with my boy and some lovely inspiration for good eats from Janet and Allan Ahlberg is definitely a good enough reason to bring one out.

 


Milo’s verdict: “I like pink cake mummy.”

 

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