Living in a rural environment I don’t get to see many people on a daily basis, the post person is probably the only regular visitor. We don’t tend to get out much so most of my contact with the outside world is through TV or my laptop.
I would love it if we had a local baking group but if such a thing exists I’ve not heard of it and even if there were one, I doubt I’d go, too much to do here.
So, when I came across an online weekly bake-off I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to take part. Every week I bake a different cake for us. I do try to challenge myself and try never to repeat a recipe. This was perfect, I wouldn’t have to choose, it would be done for me.
The other proviso as far as I’m concerned is that as far as possible all my baking contains something that we have produced here on the smallholding. Eggs usually fulfil that criteria and I often have a choice between chicken, duck or goose.
The bake-off uses recipes from Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes and one is chosen at random on Monday by the organiser. The item must be baked and the photo submitted for judging by Sunday. I didn’t own the book but found it for sale on Amazon at a relatively modest sum. However, just a few days ago I was experimenting with Kindle for PC and decided instead to download it. I use my laptop to find most of my recipes, even if they are in books sat on my shelf.
This weeks challenge was the Farmhouse Orange Victoria Sponge. A sponge with light brown sugar and some orange zest and for my special twist instead of using orange marmalade in the filling I would be substituting my home made lemon marmalade. Therefore I renamed it St Clements Victoria Sponge.
My only means of cooking is an ancient solid fuel Rayburn so cakes often present me with a bit of a dilemma. Reaching and maintaining a constant temperature is difficult especially in windy conditions and I don’t have a fan assisted oven so the side next to the fire box is always hotter.
This cake suffered particularly badly and I ended up with two ski slopes. I didn’t bother cutting the sponge to level it off, that would just be a waste of good food, instead I sandwiched them together with the filling, fat end on top of thin end which gave me an almost even cake.
The sponge was a little denser than I like and typically I didn’t read all the instructions, I believe the marmalade should have been mixed in with the butter icing rather than spread in separate layers. Nevertheless, there was nothing wrong with the taste which was enhanced by my ultra tangy lemon marmalade.
Having seen some of the other entries, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for my chances, they look stunning with both halves of the sponges deep and even but I will submit it anyway and try harder next week.