I love cake. My cake love came later in life as I was a real savoury food seeker until my thirties. Then the delightful past-time of cake and coffee on a lazy sunday afternoon developed and it is a ritual I like to keep up. Most of the time I like to venture into my local coffee shop and bakery but once in a while I channel Mary Berry and produce a home-baked goody.
One of my Mary Berry moments resulted in this delight. I really fancied a Victoria Sandwich, mostly because it brings so much joy with very little baking effort! The only problem was I only had Persian sour cherry jam in my cupboard as opposed to strawberry or raspberry. I briefly contemplated heading out to the nearest shop for jam but it was a Sunday, my pyjamas felt snug and frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I rummaged around my kitchen cupboards for flavour inspiration to match with the sour cherry jam. I landed on lime and vanilla for the sponge, rose water flavoured whipped cream and ground pistachios for the decoration. The experiment was a success and my Persian version of the British classic Victoria Sandwich is a firm favourite in my household.
The cake batter is the standard ‘225 grams of butter, sugar and self-raising flour plus 4 eggs’ mixture. It’s a great cake batter and one where even the novice baker will yield the perfect crumb. I also use this for cupcakes.
You can get your hands on sour cherry jam, rose water and pistachios from most Middle-Eastern food shops or online. The brand of sour cherry jam I use is ‘1&1’ but ‘Anjoman’ is also an excellent alternative. If all else fails just use a good quality cherry jam from your local supermarket which will also have rose water and pistachios.
A Persian Homage to the Victoria Sandwich
- 225 g golden caster sugar
- 225 g unsalted butter (plus a little extra to grease tins - at room temperature)
- 4 free range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- zest of 1 lime
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 1 jar sour cherry jam (290g)
- 300 ml whipping cream
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 to 2 tbsp icing sugar (to dust)
- 2 tbsp ground pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional / 160°C Fan / Gas mark 4. Grease and line the bottom of two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with a circle of baking paper.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy. Crack the eggs one by one and beat each one in before adding the next.
- Add the vanilla extract and lime zest. Then sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold into the mixture.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, using a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl. Gently smooth the surface of the cakes. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t open the door while they’re cooking.
- While the cakes are cooking, add the whipping cream and rose water to a mixing bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks.
- The cakes are done when they’re golden brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. You can use a thin skewer or the tip of a sharp knife to check the cakes by gently poking the centre to the bottom. It should come out clean of cake batter. Run a palette knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Set aside to cool completely.
- To assemble, choose the sponge with the best top, then put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate. Spread with the sour cherry jam (I use the whole jar - reserve some of the jam liquid to drizzle on top of the whipped cream), then spread the whipped cream on top of the jam and drizzle the remaining jam liquid over the cream. Place the other sponge on top and dust with icing sugar and the ground pistachios.