British Baking (with a Barranquillero twist)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guess who's back in London 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 do really love a good cookbook.
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 goodies 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 often less is 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?

Fiddle I did, and to much success! Replacing the British strawberries with Colombian arequipe (dulce de leche to Argentinians,caramel to you and me), a touch of coconut and a passion fruit cream, here is my twist on the traditional English sponge.


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 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 mix evenly between two tins and pop in your preheated oven for between 20-30 minutes, until cakes are starting to shrink away the sides and are springy when pressed. Take out and leave to cool - and when cooled the cakes can be removed from tins.
4) Now time for our filling! Get out your arequipe (or caramel, should the case be - carnation sell a
good ready made one), and spread with a smile on top of the base layer. If it's a little tough, a quick blast in the microwave helps its spreadability.
5) To make the icing, firstly whip your double cream until it is thick. Then add in cream cheese, your desiccated coconut, icing sugar and passionfruit pulp.
(To get your passionfruit pulp, simply put seeds in a strainer, and mush into the mesh with a spoon.)
6) Sandwich second sponge 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!

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