The second pre-bake theme for #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong was Victoria Sponge. Never one to stick to the classic, I chose to use Cherry Bakewell icing sugar by Sugar and Crumbs to help me create this sponge. I have reviewed Sugar and Crumbs before and I loved their high quality products which are also naturally flavoured. You can find Cherry Bakewell sugar by clicking here.
The Cherry Bakewell sugar has a distinct flavour that will instantly remind you of the Cherry Bakewell tarts! I decided to compliment this flavour by creating an almond sponge and using a strawberry jam in the centre since this is a Victoria sponge after all.
Both almond flavoured sponges are topped with a layer of flaked almonds before baking which add texture and flavour as they toast in the oven. The top layer of sponge is covered with a thin yet essential layer of icing which reminds you that this is Cherry Bakewell inspired.
I think a cream cheese icing works much better in this cake. Its tangy flavour balances out the sweetness slightly as the flavour of the Cherry Bakewell sugar is strong and powerful. However if you want to do a whipped cream or a buttercream, feel free to use your favourite recipes.
For the sponges:
225g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
20g flaked almonds
For the filling and decoration
40g cream cheese
130g icing sugar
120g Cherry Bakewell icing sugar
120g strawberry jam
20g icing sugar, plus extra
Half a glace cherry
Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Grease and line the base of two 23cm sandwich tins with a circle of baking parchment.
Place the ingredients for the sponge, except the milk and flaked almonds, into a bowl and use an electric whisk to beat it together for 45 seconds. Then take a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold through the milk until the cake batter is even and a thick pouring consistency.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 cake tins and then sprinkle over the flaked almonds evenly. Bake the cakes for around 18 minutes until the top is golden brown, the cake is starting to come away from the edges and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out, making sure the top is facing upwards.
For the cream cheese frosting, cream together the margarine and cream cheese. If you are opening a new package of cream cheese, try to drain off any of the excess liquid which could make your frosting runny. Add the icing sugar and Cherry Bakewell sugar in 2 batches, beating well between each addition. You will find on the first batch it is very runny but thickens up dramatically into a frosting which is thick, soft, light and holds its shape. Place into a piping bag, seal the top of the bag with an elastic band and place into the fridge for 15 minutes. Cut off a 1cm hole.
Beat the strawberry jam in a bowl until it has loosened and is pipeable. Place into a piping bag and seal the top with an elastic band. Prepare the water icing by mixing 20g icing sugar with a few drops of water to form a thick icing that doesn’t spread out.
On a cake board, place one layer of the sponge. Pipe blobs around 2cm wide around the edge of your sponge, alternating it with the jam. I found it easier and quicker to pipe all of the frosting first and then fill the gaps with the jam. You can follow the pattern in the picture below:
Place the other layer of sponge on top, pressing down lightly so the frosting and jam bulges out and can be seen; you may wish to fill in any gaps at this stage.
Spoon out the water icing around the top edge of the sponge. Use a palette knife to spread an evenly thin layer of the icing forming a 1 inch border of icing. Then pipe another circle of the frosting dots and then leave a 2cm gap and continue to pipe more blobs until you reach the middle. Fill the channel with more of the strawberry jam and pipe dots of the jam around the edge of the water icing.
Lastly top the cake with the place cherry half. Keep refrigerated.