My recipe book collection gradually changes over time; the ones that are guaranteed a lasting place are those which feature inspiring writing, invaluable reference and failproof recipes. One from this category is Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book. Truth be told, we have probably tried less than five percent the cakes and pastries in this compendium but, true to her reputation, every one has been a winner.
This weekend’s treat was our second go at the Coffee Victoria Sandwich (p195 of the 2003 BBC edition). A pair of 8″ sandwich tins need to be greased and lined and the oven set at about 180°C (perhaps 20°C less for a fan oven). Four eggs are beaten in a bowl and two heaped teaspoons of instant coffee are mixed in. To this liquid are added 225g each of soft butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour and 2 tsp baking powder. Mary Berry recommends using soft margarine but we prefer to keep butter and this works perfectly well.
The mixture is shared between the tins and baked for about 25 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. After removing from the oven, the cakes are turned out and left to cool on a wire rack; it is important to let them cool completely otherwise the next step will involve unwanted melting!
A butter cream is made of a further 50g of butter (so you need to start with just over standard 250g block available), 175g sieved icing sugar and 1 tbsp coffee essence (we use the handy version of 1 tsp instant coffee in 1 tbsp hot water). These are blended together and a small amount of milk (up to 1 tbsp) can be added if a thinner mixture is desired.
Finally the two thin cakes are sandwiched together with some of the icing and the rest is used to cover the top, before putting in an airtight container and hiding out of sight so you don’t feel tempted to make a start before your guests arrive!