Guess who’s come home for Christmas? After bidding a brief farewell to my beloved Barranquilla, I touched back down in London to spend Christmas with my friends and family back here in the UK. One of the many exciting things about being back home is being close to all the little things I love – especially my collection of cookbooks!
I spent an evening curled up in bed back with my old friends Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry. Having brought back various Colombian food products with me, I could just envision one of Mary Berry’s traditional English cakes with a new Colombian twist to it. And what cake is more traditional than the classic Victoria Sponge? Proving that less is often more, this simple sponge cake with just a touch of jam, cream and fresh berries is a much-loved classic and an iconic British bake. Dare I fiddle with this recipe?
Fiddle I did, and to much success! Replacing the British jam and strawberries with Colombian arequipe (dulce de leche to Argentines, caramel to you and me), a touch of coconut and a passion fruit cream, here is my twist on the traditional English sponge.
Colombian coconut, caramel and passionfruit Victoria Sponge
(Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course)
For the Cake:
– 225g of butter (at room temperature, plus a bit extra for greasing the tins)
– 225g of caster sugar
– 225g of self-raising flour
– 2 level tsp baking powder
– 4 large eggs
For the Filling:
– 200g Arequipe/Caramel
– 150g cream cheese
– 100g double cream, whipped
– 100g icing sugar
– 2 generous tbsp of desiccated coconut
– Passionfruit pulp from 5 passion fruits
Two victoria Sponge tins
A good whisk!
(Have you noticed anything about the measurements for this cake? Equal amounts of butter, sugar, and flour. Add in 4 eggs and 2 tsp of baking powder and you have the backbone of about 100 delicious sponge-cake recipes. Learn these ingredients, practice this cake, and you have mastered a classic. How easy is that?!).
Line cake tins with cake tin liners or grease with some butter. Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees/350 Fahrenheit.
1) Cube butter and place in a large bowl. Add in the caster sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs (crack in one at a time).
2) Here you can use a hand or electric whisk to combine ingredients. You want to do this at a slow speed to gain a nice soft mixture which should drop off your whisk when lifted up.
3) Spread cake mix evenly between two tins and pop in your preheated oven for between 20-30 minutes, until cakes are starting to shrink away at the sides and are springy when pressed. Take out and leave to cool. When cooled, the cakes can be removed from tins.
4) Now time for our filling! First get your passionfruit pulp by putting the passion fruit seeds in a small tea colander and press with the back of a spoon to separate the flesh from the seeds. Reserve pulp for later.
5) Get out your arequipe (or caramel – carnation sell a good ready made one), and spread with a smile on top of the base layer of the sponge. If it’s a little tough, a quick blast in the microwave helps its spreadability.
5) To make the icing, whip your double cream until it is thick and spreadable. Then add in cream cheese, your desiccated coconut, icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and mix again to combine.
6) Sandwich the second sponge cake on top, and smooth over a bit more cream. Here your artistic license is at play – warm up and drizzle over some more caramel, dot on a few passion fruit seeds – whatever your heart desires!
A simple sponge cake tropically transformed into a coconut, caramel and passion fruit delight. Serve with a nice cup of English tea, or a shot of aguardiente (a Colombian alcoholic spirit) – that choice I will leave up to you!