Red Plum Victoria sponge

This recipe was taken from Claire Ptak's Violet Bakery Cookbook.

Makes one 20cm cake, which serves 8-10

125g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the tin

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

300g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

160g whole milk

700g double cream

plum jam, at room temperature

icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

Preheat the oven at 150°C/130°C (fan)/gas 2. Butter a deep 20x7.5cm cake in and line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the very soft butter with the sugar until almost white and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, vanilla and salt and mix until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then add half of it to the butter mixture until just combined. Add the milk and mix until combined.

Now mix in the remaining flour. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and mix once more. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top with a palette knife or spatula.

Bake for about 50–60 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back to the touch. Allow the cake to cool for 15–20 minutes, then remove it from the tin and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, whip your cream to soft peaks and bring your jam o room temperature if it is kept in the fridge.

Once the cake has cooled, use a long serrated knife to slice horizontally through the centre of the cake. Use the loose bottom of a cake or tart tin to slide in between the layers and life off the top layer. Slide the bottom layer off the cooling rack and on to a serving plate or cake stand. Spread the bottom layer with a generous amount of jam and then dollop large spoonfuls of whipped cream on top. Smooth the cream a little, then add the top layer of sponge. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

Makes one 20cm cake or 24 cupcakes, serves 12

220g plain flour

100g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

450g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g buttermilk or plain yoghurt

100g vegetable oil

225g hot water

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan)/gas 3. Butter and line a 20cm cake tin with paper, or line two 12-cup muffin trays with paper cases.

Measure the dry ingredients, including the caster sugar, into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk to distribute the salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder evenly throughout the other dry ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (except for the hot water). Once they are well whisked together, slowly whisk in the hot water.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the batter into your tin right away and bake for 40–50 minutes until the top is springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. If you are making cupcakes, scrape the batter into a container that will fit into your fridge and place a lid on top. Chill the batter for at least 1 hour. This will thicken it and make it easier to spoon into your cupcake cases. Bake the cupcakes for 18–20 minutes, until the tops are springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Decorate the tops and sides of your cooled cake or cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing or Marshmallow Icing.

SALTED CARAMEL ICING

Makes enough to ice and fill one 20cm cake or 12 cupcakes

75g salted caramel sauce (page 237)

125g unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon whole milk – plus 1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

550–750g icing sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the salted caramel and butter until smooth. Add all the of the milk along with the vanilla, salt and half of the icing sugar. Cream together on a low speed for at least 3 minutes (set your timer). Gradually add more icing sugar as needed, until you get the consistency you want, to make a spreadable and creamy icing that is as light as can be.