There is no cake more regal. It was originally made for Queen Victoria, during whose incredible 63-year reign the tradition of afternoon tea began to evolve. And during the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the tradition of afternoon tea is ever more popular. Queen Victoria would have had her cake with raspberry jam and topped with a sprinkling of granulated sugar. I have filled this one with strawberry jam and topped it with berries and a few fresh rose petals, then added some celebratory mini bunting.
FOR THE CAKE
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
225g caster sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 free range eggs
225g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp boiling water
FOR THE FILLING
110g strawberry jam
180ml double cream, whipped
12 large strawberries, stemmed and sliced
FOR THE DECORATION
12 medium strawberries
Handful of fresh rose petals
Icing sugar, for dusting
Mini bunting about 30cm long
2 red-and-white paper drinking straws
2 thin wooden skewers
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Butter the sides of two 20cm round cake tins and line the bottom of each tin with nonstick baking paper.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy and light in colour. Add the vanilla then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a few spoons of the flour. Sift together the (remaining) flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and, using a large metal spoon or a rubber spatula, mix carefully just until all the flour mixture is evenly incorporated. Lastly, stir in the boiling water.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins. Using an offset spatula, smooth the surface of the batter in each pan, then make a small hollow in the centre so the top is flat when the cake layer emerges from the oven.
- Bake the cake layers for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted at the centre of each cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins on wire racks for 10 minutes, then invert the tins on to the racks, lift off the tins, turn the layers right side up and leave to cool completely.
- To assemble and decorate the cake, trim the tops of each layer if necessary, so they will sit flat. Place a cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. Spoon on the jam and spread gently to the edges. Top with the cream, again spreading gently to the edges, and finish with the strawberry slices, covering the cream evenly. Top with the second cake layer, top side up. Arrange the strawberries around the top edge of the cake, fill the centre with the rose petals, then dust lightly with icing sugar. Secure each end of the bunting to the top of a straw-encased skewer then pierce the skewers into either side of the base of the cake to finish.
Buy the book
Our recipes are taken from Tea at the Palace: 50 Delicious Recipes for Afternoon Tea by Carolyn Robb (White Lion Publishing, £14.99). To order a copy for £12.74 until 13 June go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free p&p on orders over £20.