Recipe for a perfectly Victorian fruity spongy dream

The Victorian sponge is a classic cake, isn’t it? A spongy, creamy, jammy heaven! My recipe, is of course residing in the realms of glorious excess, but I feel that, considering I made this as a birthday cake for my Mum, glorious excess is perfectly acceptable – if not a downright necessity! The great thing about this cake is that it is not at all prodigious to make. In fact, from pre-heating the oven, to actually scoffing the finished article, the time period is less than one hour, which admittedly is longer than the cake survives the gluttonous mouths of the Tuohy household! The sponge itself is a traditional recipe, but the addition of double cream and luxurious strawberry conserve, topped with a variety of fresh fruit, ensures that this Victorian classic gets a taste of modernity!


What you will need for the cake:

6oz plain white flour (if you use self-raising flour, then no baking powder is required)

6oz caster sugar

5oz butter

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

3 eggs

What you will need for the filling and topping:

1 pint double cream

Strawberry jam/conserve

Strawberries, peaches, kiwis (or any other fruit of your choice)

1)      Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C, gas mark 4.

2)      Grease the inside of two 7” cake tins. A good tip is also to then line the tins with greaseproof paper to prevent the cake from sticking. (Greasing it should take care of this, but by doing this, you’re sure to have perfect cakes)

3)      Cream the butter until it is soft and then, add the caster sugar gradually.

4)      When this mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs in one by one, beating them in during each addition.

5)      Sieve in the flour and baking powder and add the milk. Mix together, either by hand or in a mixer.

6)      Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake immediately for 20-25 mins.

7)      When the cakes are done, leave them to cool on a wire rack. (I usually take them out of the tins straight away and the greaseproof paper aids you with this)

8)      When the cakes are cool, spread the jam/conserve on the inside of both cake and fill with cream, topping the cake with some more double cream and adding your fruit.

And there you have it! A delicious sponge, perfect for all seasons – soft and comforting in winter, but light enough for a warm summer’s day (depending on how much double cream one can handle).

Almost Victorian enough to say ‘qu’ils mangent de la brioche’ – let them eat cake!

Bon appetit,



Unrepentant gluttony: My recipe for a gloriously indulgent pavlova.

Being the unrepentant glutton that I am and always abiding by the Gospel according to Nigella when it comes to indulgence, I firmly believe that there are no such things as guilty pleasures. If something tastes nice and I enjoy it, then no amount of calorie induced guilt tripping can make me put down that slice of double cream filled, triple chocolate Devil’s Food Cake. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I occasionally like to create some unashamedly calorie-laden treats. Admittedly, I don’t even try and masquerade them as being slightly healthy by substituting the copiously indulgent ingredients with more waist band friendly alternatives. I told you – my gluttony is unrepentant. If they say ‘too much of a good thing can kill you’, then death by chocolate cake or some other fanciable dessert suits me fine! If you don’t fancy facing mortality, drowning in a sea of chocolate fudge (mmmmm), then how about you try this happy medium?It’s my BERRY, CHOCOLATE, CREAMY PAVLOVA TOWER:


Okay, this is what you will need:

To make the MERINGUE:

6 egg whites

350g sieved caster sugar

To make the FILLING:

350g good quality dark chocolate

150 ml double cream (to mix with the chocolate)

Optional: 75 ml double cream, for the top of the meringue, as illustrated in the photo. (It’s optional because the chocolate on the top might be rich enough on its own for some palates)

90g butter

Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. (I used 2 punnets of strawberries, but the fruit content can be as subjective as your taste may be).

1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C/Gas 1.

2. Pour the egg whites into a SPOTLESSLY CLEAN bowl and whisk the eggs with an electric hand mixer until they are fluffy. Gradually add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until you can form stiff peaks with the egg yokes. A good test for this, is to lift the bowl upside down and if nothing moves, then you’re good to go! If it’s even slightly droopy, KEEP WHISKING.

3. When the eggs are suitably whisked, line a baking tray with parchment paper and on it draw two circles of diameters 20cm and 16cm. You may find that your baking tray isn’t big enough – that’s no problem, just use two trays instead. A good trick to get the paper to stay, is to place four blobs of the stiff egg white mixture in the four corners on the tray and stick the paper on to it.

4. When that’s done, pour the egg white and caster sugar mixture into the two circle. Don’t be too fussy about the way it looks – some people like to have a hollow in the middle, but I never worry about it.


6. When the meringues are cooked, leave the oven door ajar and let them cool for a half hour.

7. Don’t worry if they crack – they probably will, mine often do, but, as Nigella would say ‘their taste – like love, will blind you to their flaws’.

8. Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bowl over a pot of boiling water, and then fold in the whipped cream.

9. On the largest meringue, using a spatula, layer on some melted chocolate and place some sliced strawberries on top. It’s a good idea to add some cream, to act as a coagulating agent for the pavlova that is about to smother it!

10. Place the smallest meringue on top and repeat the process. As you can see, I added an extremely generous amount of cream to the middle of mine. Decorate as you please, but usually, at this stage, my taste buds are tantalized, so presentation is often sacrificed on the altar of gluttony.

11. Take a picture of it, devour it, and don’t feel any guilt about it, WHATSOEVER!

Happy Munching,