I don’t see my sister that often but when I do I try to make it something of an occasion. She travelled up from London to Nottingham on a business trip this week, but since my house is currently akin to ‘Steptoe’s parlour’ (the entire top floor including my dressing room and bedroom have had to be cleared and vacated for refurbishment and re-decoration), I was unable to offer her overnight accommodation. I decided the next best thing I could do was to bake a cake.
Thankfully, Sarah volunteered to host our impromptu tea party at her house, which involved buying a selection of the finest teas she could find (my sister is something of a tea connoisseur) but I still had to devise a last-minute, quick and easy, gluten, grain and refined sugar free cake from scratch. Overwhelmed at the prospect it was a bit touch and go as to whether a visit to our local deli wouldn't be a better option, but then I remembered…
When my two children were little I used to regularly take them on very long walks (at least 5 to 10 miles) mainly because I wouldn’t let them sit for more than 2 hours a day glued to the television screen (thank goodness computer games hadn’t been invented). Anyway, I think more often than not they were persuaded to go the distance with me because I promised them freshly-baked cake on our return. At that time, my go-to cake recipe was for a Victoria Sandwich, which I could weigh out and quickly knock-up in a food processor in about 10 minutes flat.
The memory of an all-in-one method for making cake was sweet relief in the midst of the current crazy-busy situation I’m in. All I had to do was devise a healthy new recipe without a sniff of the refined self-raising flour, flora margarine and caster sugar, which so reliably whizzed itself up to seeming perfection thirty-plus years ago.
Fuelled by a taste for nostalgia, I am so excited that my re-invention of a Victoria Sandwich works just as well as the original. Strictly speaking, a classic Victorian sandwich recipe firstly involves weighing the eggs and then weighing out the same quantity of butter, sugar and flour before laboriously creaming the ingredients together with a wooden spoon - certainly not with a whisk - or, as in this recipe, a food processor. However, only the cook will know the difference, because this cake only takes about 10 minutes to make, not 30 minutes!
The result is an evenly risen, delightful party cake full of golden spongey goodness, which I think owes much of its success to tiger nut flour. Baking it wasn’t all plain sailing. The amount of cake batter my recipe made wasn’t enough to fill two 20cm/8” sandwich tins and, since I don’t have any smaller sized tins, I ended up piling all my cake mixture into just one of the sandwich tins and manually splitting the cooked cake through the middle with a serrated knife after it had completely cooled down (see note below).
Also, because tiger nuts are naturally sweet, I think I could have got away with using less honey i.e. 100g rather than 125g (to make my cake more low-carb) - however, as everyone agreed it wasn’t too sweet for their taste, I’ve left the original recipe alone. Just a word of caution if you’re concerned about your carbohydrate intake, make sure you have a few more friends to share it than I did - four of us happily (and all too easily), devoured the whole cake in just one sitting!
To make my cake extra special, I used whipped cream and fresh strawberries as well as 100% pure fruit spread to fill and decorate it. Whether you prefer to keep your cake simple or make it more luscious, I can promise you that this light and lovely easy-to-make cake recipe is a teatime winner.
Tiger Nut Victoria Sponge (10 servings)
200g tiger nut flour
2½ level tsp gluten-free baking powder (I used Waitrose Cook’s Homebaking brand)
200g butter, softened + a little extra for greasing the tin(s)
4 large organic eggs
125g raw clear organic honey
150g 100% strawberry fruit spread (I used St Dalfour)
200ml organic double cream
225g fresh strawberries, washed and dried - approximately 150g hulled and sliced and 75g left whole (for decoration)
Heat the oven to 175℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4
Grease and bottom line (with non-stick baking parchment) either 1 x loose-bottomed 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tin OR 2 x 15cm (6 inch) loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
Sift the tiger nut flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl.
Fix the double-bladed ’S’ shaped knife into the food processor and place the butter, honey, flour/baking powder and eggs into the processor bowl.
Process for about 30 seconds until well mixed and a creamy (not runny) consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated.
Tip the cake mix into the prepared cake tin(s), spreading out evenly and levelling off the surface with a palette knife, then place into the oven.
Bake the single 20cm (8”) cake for about 30 mins OR, if you’ve divided the cake mix between two 15cm (6”) sandwich tins, for about 20 minutes - until risen, golden-brown and firm to the touch. Also, if you put your ear close to the surface of the cooked cake it will kind of ‘sing’.
When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 mins in the tin(s), before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.
Split the single cake horizontally into two even halves, if required. Sandwich the two halves (or the two separate cakes) together by spreading the strawberry preserve onto one half. Top with the second half of the cake (cut side down, if you had to slice a whole cake through the middle)
For a special occasion, lightly whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks (don’t over whip it as it’ll be difficult to spread out evenly on top of the fruit spread). Fill the cake with the whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Put the second half of the cake on top (see above) and decorate with whole strawberries if liked.
N.B. I need to confirm the exact size of sandwich tins best suited to this recipe - 2 x 15cm is a guesstimate based on my only experience of making this cake in a larger tin. It is obviously easier for you to bake the cake halves separately in two tins rather than having to manually cut one cake horizontally through its middle afterwards. Please let the cake cool down completely before attempting to do this, otherwise it might fall apart. You still need a steady hand and clear vision to make an even cut!
To avoid wire rack marks when you’re baking your cake in two tins, put a clean tea towel over the cooked cake in the tin, put your hand on top of the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down onto your hand and the tea towel - then carefully turn it from your hand onto the wire rack to cool completely.
If you are making a 15cm (6”) diameter sandwich cake, you may want to reduce the amount of whipped cream and strawberries for the filling accordingly. However, if you’re just using fruit spread to sandwich this size of cake together, the quantity shown in the above recipe will still be correct.
Carbohydrate 29g Protein 5g - per serving