Coffee Topped Sponge

Coffee Topped Victoria Sponge

This version of the classic sponge is filled and topped with coffee butter icing. In the U.K. this is known as coffee cake but in North America, coffee cake can be any cake meant to accompany a cup of coffee, which is why I called this one a coffee topped sponge.

Coffee Topped Sponge

8 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For cake
  • 170 g (6 oz) self-raising flour/self rising flour, sifted (1 cup + 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 170 g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)
  • For the coffee buttercream
  • 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 225 g (8 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence/extract

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 18 cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased


  • Method
  • For cake
  • Preheat the oven to 170C° (325°F) (gas 3)
  • First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible. Put to one side.
  • Using a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they are creamy and pale yellow in colour.
  • Next beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. (Adding the flour prevents any curdling)
  • Finally, carefully fold in the rest of the flour until just combined. You want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops.
  • Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 30–35 minutes until firm to the touch. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with the tip of a finger.
  • Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the linings, and cool on wire racks.
  • Using an all-in-one method in a free-standing mixer
  • The ingredients can be mixed at the same time using a free standing mixer.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixing bowl and then add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1–2 minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • For coffee buttercream
  • Beat the butter until creamy and then gradually beat in the icing/powdered sugar until smooth. (A free standing mixer does this in no time.)
  • Beat in the coffee essence/extract until it is well mixed in.

  • To assemble
  • Once the sponges are cold, carefully invert one onto a plate and evenly spread with half the buttercream.
  • Then place the other sponge on top and gently press down.
  • Evenly spread the top with the remaining buttercream.
  • To make a pattern, make straight lines through the buttercream using a fork. Just pull steadily through the surface of the buttercream. Then diagonally pull the fork through at intervals.

Note

  • The first method of mixing the cake is the classic method and the all-in-one method is the modern version. It’s purely a matter of personal preference which you use.
  • For more tips on cake baking, click on my ‘Tips’ section.
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Updated: June 20, 2020

English-style Cannelloni

Cannelloni shells are filled with minced/ground beef flavoured with chopped onions and a little Bolognese sauce. They are cooked in a Bolognese sauce and topped with white sauce which is sprinkled with parmesan cheese. I have two recipes for cannelloni – one from North America and this one from England. The English recipe is a lighter recipe without the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and with a plain white sauce.

English-style Cannelloni

4 servings
  • Hands on time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 450 g (1 lb) minced/ground beef
  • 1 large jar Bolognese sauce
  • 12 cannelloni shells
  • 28 g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 28 g (1 oz) flour (3 tbsp)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 55 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese (½ cup)

Equipment

  • You will also need a 23 cm x 33 cm (9 x 12 inch) ovenproof dish lightly oiled
  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 4–5 minutes until softened but not browned.
  • Then add the beef and brown over a medium heat for about 3–4 minutes. You want it to just start turning colour.
  • Now stir through 5 tablespoons of the sauce and then leave to cool for a few minutes.
  • Spoon a layer of sauce over the bottom of the ovenproof dish.
  • Next, fill the cannelloni shells with the meat and lay them on top of the sauce in a single layer.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the shells.
  • Next, to make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and mix to a smooth paste.
  • Slowly add the milk, stirring continuously, until there is a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer, while stirring, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  • Season and add a little grated nutmeg.
  • Pour the sauce over the cannelloni and then sprinkle over the cheese.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until the top begins to brown and the sauce is bubbling.
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Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

This strawberry tart recipe makes a super delicious summer tart. The sweet pastry is filled with a creamy crème pâtissière and decorated with small, whole strawberries which are then glazed. Just slice and enjoy.

Strawberry Tart

10 servings
  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Chilling time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 28 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the pastry
  • 170 g (6 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (1⅓ cups)
  • 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 40 g (1½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • For the crème pâtissière
  • 70 g (2½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (5 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 28 g (1 oz) cornflour/cornstarch (¼ cup)
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% partly skimmed milk (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180 ml (6 fl oz) double cream/whipping cream or heavy cream (¾ cup)
  • For the topping
  • 450 g (16 oz) strawberries (ideally the same size) (about 3 cups)
  • 3 tbsp strawberry jam, sieved

Equipment

  • You will also need a 23 cm (9 inch) round springform tin/pan.


  • Method
  • Whiz flour and butter in a food processor until crumbly, or rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips.
  • Add the sugar and whiz to mix.
  • Now separate the egg and reserve the white for later.

  • Add the yolk and 1 tablespoon of very cold water and either pulse or stir with a palette knife to bring the pastry together. (It will be a stickier than shortcrust pastry.)
  • Shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Now make the crème pâtissière.

  • Mix together the sugar, yolks, and cornflour/cornstarch in a medium bowl until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Heat the milk and vanilla extract until just boiling. Then gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
  • Return the mixture to the pan and stir continuously, letting it gently bubble until the mixture has thickened.
  • Now spoon into a large bowl, cover, and leave to cool and then chill.
  • Once the pastry has rested, roll out quite thinly. This is made easier by rolling the pastry between two large pieces of clingfilm/plastic wrap, lightly dusting the bottom piece and the pastry with flour before rolling out.
  • Once rolled out, peel off the top piece of clingfilm/plastic wrap and carefully flip over and line the tin/pan, allowing the pastry to come about 3 cm (1¼ inches) up the sides. Trim to neaten. This pastry is quite forgiving and if it tears while lining the tin, it can be easily patched without spoiling the result.
  • Prick the base all over with the tines of a fork then chill for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).
  • Line the pastry and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, covering the top with parchment paper if it is browning too quickly.
  • Remove from the oven and use enough reserved egg white to brush the inside of the pastry. Return to the oven for 2–3 more minutes to seal the pastry.
  • Leave to cool in the tin/pan and then remove and transfer to a serving plate.

  • No more than 2 hours before serving, whip the cream until stiff.

  • Next whip the custard to loosen it a little and then whisk in 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream.
  • Now fold in the remaining cream.
  • Spoon into the pastry case. Level the surface and chill for 30 minutes until set.

  • Meanwhile, wash, pat dry, and hull the strawberries.
  • Arrange on top of the crème pâtissière. (If not serving straight away, chill until needed.)
  • Just before serving, brush the strawberries with the jam to glaze. (If the jam is really thick, loosen it with a little hot water.)
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Updated: June 8, 2020

Cappuccino Tray Bake

A perfect little square to accompany that coffee, mid-morning. A coffee sponge with crushed walnuts is topped with a smooth white chocolate and mascarpone icing. And then dusted with cocoa powder.

Cappuccino Tray Bake

18 servings
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1⅛ cups)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 3 tbsp Espresso coffee, or coffee extract
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1¾ cups)
  • tsp baking powder
  • 85 g (3 oz) chopped walnuts (⅔ cup)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • For the topping
  • 250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 55 g (2 oz) icing/powdered sugar (½ cup)
  • 140 g (5 oz) white chocolate
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Equipment

  • You will also need 30 cm x 25 cm (12 x 10 inch) brownie tin/pan, greased and lined.
  • Method
  • For the sponge
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand whisk or alternatively a food mixer with whisk attachment.
  • Add the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy.
  • Now add a quarter of the beaten eggs and beat at full speed.
  • Then add the remaining egg gradually, beating well between each addition. If the mixture begins to curdle, just add 2 tablespoons of the flour.
  • Next add the coffee and whisk in.
  • Spoon over the flour, baking powder, and chopped walnuts. Lightly fold in by hand until all the flour is incorporated.
  • Now loosen the mixture with the milk.
  • Pour into the prepared tin/pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in the tin/pan to cool completely.
  • For the topping
  • First melt the chocolate. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl sitting over a pan of just simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Continually stir the chocolate until it has just melted and then remove immediately from the heat and leave to cool while preparing the topping.
  • Beat the mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Sift in the sugar and beat again until combined.
  • Add the melted chocolate and butter. Beat until smooth.
  • Now spread evenly over the cake.
  • Sift over cocoa powder.
    Cappuccino Tray Bake
  • Then cut into squares.
    Cappuccino Tray Bake
  • Note
  • The squares need to be stored in the refrigerator.
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