12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)
Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.
Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.
Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.
Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.
Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.
Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.
Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.
For the buttercream filling
Beat the butter until it is really soft.
Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.
Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.
Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.
This is a really light trifle. Not what you normally think of as a trifle although it uses the same ingredients. It’s very refreshing for a summer dessert and looks good too.
This very light summer trifle has a selection of seasonal fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, black and red currants, tossed in a fruit purée and surrounded with little boozy sponge fingers coated in a vanilla custard.
Pour the milk in a small pan. and add the vanilla pod or vanilla extract. Slowly heat on the lowest setting for 10 minutes, without boiling.
Meanwhile put the egg yolks in a small bowl and stir in the sugar to make a paste.
Slowly stir the milk and vanilla into the egg and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Return the custard to the pan and stir over a low heat, until it begins to thicken. Do not let it boil. You want it to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool briefly.
Meanwhile, cut each sponge finger in two and lay them in a shallow bowl. Drizzle over the wine or sherry.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and then stir in the cooled custard.
Wash and pat dry the fruits. Remove the currants from their stalks, hull and halve the strawberries. Set aside half the berries and currants, picking out the best. Put the remainder in a food processor or blender and add the teaspoon of sugar and wine. Purée until smooth and then, using the back of a spoon, push through a plastic sieve to remove the pulp. Once the purée is pressed through, wipe the underside of the sieve with the spoon to get all the remaining sauce.
Carefully toss the reserved fruit with half the purée and spoon into the centre of each plate.
Divide the sponge fingers between the plates arranging them around the edge.
Roughly chop the pistachio nuts or walnuts.
Pour the custard over the sponge fingers then sprinkle the nuts on top.
Pour the remaining purée over the fruit and serve.
2 tbsp golden caster sugar/fine white sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
100g/3½ oz caster sugar/fine white sugar if not using a chef’s blowtorch
6 x 150ml/5 fl oz heatproof ramekins
For the custard
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
Lightly grease the ramekins with the butter and set to one side.
Put the egg yolks into a large bowl, add the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk with a balloon whisk to combine. Set to one side.
Pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, about 2 minutes.
Gradually pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking with the balloon whisk until blended. Strain the custard and divide between the six ramekins.
Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, line a deep sided ovenproof dish or roasting tin/pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (this prevents them slipping while in the pan). Carefully pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekin dishes.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. The custard needs to still wobble slightly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the water. Take the ramekin dishes out of the water, cover and refrigerate overnight.
For the topping using a chef’s blowtorch
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.
Leave to cool, then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
For the topping without using a chef’s blowtorch
First, have a piece of baking paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready. Carefully pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.
The caramel will harden on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
Preheat the grill to high.
Put the ramekins on a baking tray as close to the grill as possible. Cook for less than 1 minute, not letting the sugar burn. It just needs to melt the sugar.
Leave to cool then refrigerate for two hours before serving.