Classic Victoria Sponge

It’s back to basics with this bake. Classic Victoria sponge cake, so simple but so delicious!

There are so many variations of a classic Victoria sponge. Buttercream or fresh cream? Raspberry or strawberry jam? Decorate or leave plain?

I started going down a rabbit hole when researching this one, only to realise that there isn’t really a “right” way and that, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter! It’s one of those cakes that I think you can decide what your classic take on Victoria sponge will be, and let’s face it, it’s always going to taste amazing.

So here’s my take on it. Beautifully baked vanilla sponge cakes sandwiched together with strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream flavoured with vanilla essence. For the decoration, I chose a simple dusting of icing sugar. As you know I’m all about simplicity!

Ingredients (makes a two-layer 8inch Victoria sponge cake)

For the cake:
250g Stork tub
250g white or golden caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

For the filling:
3-4 tablespoons strawberry jam
150ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4-5 fresh strawberries (optional)

For the decoration:
Icing sugar for dusting

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line the base of two 8inch/20cm round baking tins with greaseproof paper and lightly grease the sides with a little butter.

Start by making the cake. In a large bowl beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy.

Mix in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the 250g flour with each egg to stop the mixture from curdling.

Add the remaining flour and baking powder, and fold the mixture together until smooth and combined. Be careful not to over-mix. The mixture should drop off the spoon but still hold its shape. If it’s too thick then add a tablespoon of milk and mix through.

Divide the mixture equally between the cake tins. Lightly tap the baking tins on the side to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and leave in the baking tins for 5 minutes to cool. Run a knife around the edge of the tins and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.

Now make the filling. Whip the double cream and vanilla extract with a whisk or electric mixer until the cream starts to thicken, can hold its shape but is still soft. Be really careful not to over whip as this can make the cream hard and grainy. If you’re unsure, I found watching BBC’s video tutorial really helpful.

Time to decorate. Choose a cake layer for the base and place it on a pretty plate or cake stand. Spread the jam on top into an even layer. Make sure the jam doesn’t go right up to the edge of the cake, you’ll want to leave about a 1cm gap. Spoon the whipped cream on top and spread out into an even layer, again leaving space. Cut the strawberries lengthways and dot around the outer edge of the cake. Carefully place the other cake layer on top and lightly press down so that the jam and cream spread out to the edge underneath. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Blondies

Gluten-free chocolate chip blondies that are chewy on the outside, gooey in the middle and crispy on top. It must be a miracle! Well not quite, but there is one secret ingredient to these blondies… ground almonds.

I can’t lie I’ve struggled with gluten-free flour in the past, most of my attempts have resulted in dry, heavy and crumbly bakes. It’s not a good look or taste. So when I had multiple requests from my followers to develop a recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip blondies, I had a little nervous feeling in my stomach, but I love a challenge and eventually decided to give it a go.

After lots (and lots and lots) of research, I came across a lot of discussion about almond flour being a great substitute for gluten-free flour. Well let me tell you something, almond flour is SO expensive and also very difficult to find. Ground almonds, on the other hand, can be found easily and cost a fraction of the price. Although they are basically the same, the texture is quite different. Almond flour is super fine and can make bakes a little dry, whereas ground almonds are more coarse and release more moisture when baked – making them perfect for blondies!

Gluten-free chocolate chip blondies
Gluten-free chocolate chip blondies

Ingredients (makes 9 blondies)

250g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g unsalted butter
225g light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
50g white chocolate chips
50g milk chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 8x8inch square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

First combine the ground almonds and baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl melt the butter in the microwave or on the hob until it turns to liquid. Add the light brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and mix everything together until combined. Now add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips (save a handful for the next step) and fold the mixture until it comes together.

Transfer the mixture to the baking tin and spread it out into an even layer. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips on top.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The edges will be brown and the centre should be set. Cool completely in the baking tin before removing and slicing into 9 blondies.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Velvety in texture and rich in flavour, whipped chocolate ganache frosting is a delicious alternative to traditional buttercream.

The ganache calls for a few simple ingredients; chocolate, double cream and butter. I prefer to use a mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate so that the flavour doesn’t end up being too bitter. The butter is optional, but personally, I feel that it adds richness to the ganache and gives it a lovely shine.

After the ganache has had time to set, it is whipped using an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Whipping the ganache makes it light, fluffy and creamy, it also holds its structure really well making it perfect for piping or spreading onto cakes.

Use the ganache frosting to decorate cakes, brownies cookies or whatever you fancy! To give you an indication, this recipe will make enough frosting to decorate a two-layer 8-inch cake (top and sides), or about 12 cupcakes.

Whipped chocolate ganache frosting

Ingredients (makes enough to decorate a two-layer 8-inch cake)

150g good quality 70% dark chocolate
150g good quality milk chocolate
50g butter
300ml double cream

Method

Chop the two chocolates and butter up into small pieces and place in a bowl.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat on low until the cream is steamy and bubbles start to form around the edge. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and butter. Leave for 30 seconds and then stir together until the ganache is smooth. Put the ganache in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.

Put the ganache in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer, to whip the ganache on medium/high speed until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes.

Use straightaway to decorate your bakes or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Banana Bites

These banana bites are perfect for when you’re craving a sweet treat that is (sort of) healthy. The recipe couldn’t be easier and you’ll only need three ingredients; all-natural peanut butter, chocolate and bananas.

Each banana bite is sandwiched together with all-natural peanut butter and dipped in dark chocolate. Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates, peanut butter is high in protein and dark chocolate is supposedly one of the best sources of antioxidants (win!). The combination of ingredients is the perfect energy booster.

Keep the banana bites in the freezer for when you need pre or post-workout pick me up, or to curb those after-dinner sugar cravings.

Not a fan of dark chocolate or peanut butter? Swap the dark chocolate for milk or white chocolate, and swap the peanut butter for any other nut butter like almond, cashew or hazelnut.

Chocolate dipped peanut butter banana bites
Peanut butter banana slices
Dipping banana bites into chocolate

Ingredients (makes 12 banana bites)

2 ripe medium bananas
6 teaspoons (50g) natural peanut butter – I always buy Meridian peanut butter
50g dark chocolate

Method

Peel the bananas and slice them into rounds. You should be able to get roughly 12 slices per banana.

Top half of the slices with a small amount of peanut butter. Place the remaining slices on top to make little sandwich bites. Insert a toothpick into each bite and put into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or on the hob. Coat half of each sandwich bite by dipping it into the melted chocolate. Put back in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Either serve and eat straightaway, or store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Millionaire’s Salted Caramel Tart

Are you a fan of rich and indulgent desserts? If the answer is yes, then this Millionaire’s Salted Caramel Tart is the recipe for you!

The base of the tart is made using a shortbread dough, which is slightly different from traditional shortcrust. There’s no chilling, no kneading, no rolling or blind baking required, believe me when I say it’s as easy as pie to make! Once baked, the texture of the crust is very tender, almost like a shortbread cookie, which is a lovely nod to the classic millionaire’s traybake slice.

The shortbread crust is then filled with a layer of homemade salted caramel and topped with a layer of milk and dark chocolate ganache (I use both types of chocolate so it’s not too bitter). The final touches are a drizzle of salted caramel and sprinkle of sea salt flakes.

I was super happy to find a pot of Anglesey sea salt in the shops because it’s where my husband and I tied the knot last year! Millionaire’s salted caramel tart will now be another lovely reminder of our amazing wedding day.

Slice of millionaire's salted caramel tart
Millionaire's salted caramel tart cut into slices

Ingredients (makes a 9 inch tart / 10 slices)

For the shortbread crust:
200g plain flour
45 grams icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
165g unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the salted caramel:
50g unsalted butter
50g light muscovado sugar
1 can (397g) of condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate filling:
75g good quality 70% dark chocolate
75g good quality milk chocolate
25g butter
150ml double cream

Optional decoration:
Sea salt flakes

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 8-inch tart tin (preferably with a removable bottom) with a bit of butter.

Start with the shortbread crust. Combine the flour, icing sugar, and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) until liquid. Pour into the dry ingredients and add the vanilla extract. Stir until all the ingredients come together to make a dough.

Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides of the tart tin. Place the tart tin on a baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.

Now make the salted caramel. Heat the sugar and butter in a medium sized saucepan until melted. Pour in the condensed milk and bring to a rapid boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and is turns golden in colour. Stir in the salt and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the salted caramel into the tart crust (saving 1-2 tablespoons to decorate with later) and spread it out into an even layer. Put the tart in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate filling. Chop the chocolate and butter up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil on a low heat whilst stir occasionally. Once the cream has started to boil, pour it over the chopped chocolate and butter. Leave for 30 seconds and then slowly stir until everything has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Take the tart out of the fridge. Pour the chocolate filling on top of the caramel and spread it out into an even layer. Put the tart back in the fridge to set for two hours or overnight.

Now for the final touches! Drizzle the leftover caramel on top of the tart and sprinkle with sea salt. The tart is best served at room temperature and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.