So Valentine’s Day is over and I bet a lot of people out there are breathing a big sigh of relief. Once again, I didn’t get round to doing much in the way of baking with roses, love hearts and other declarations of affection, but there’s always next year.
I find Valentines’ Day a funny old thing. It seems to highlight the insecurities that everybody feels about relationships, regardless of whether you are coupled up or not. On my Valentine’s days as a singleton, I spent them moping about my solo status. Coupled up, there was the awkward uncertainty about card and gift giving, and how much of a deal to make it, then declaring that it was all rubbish, then mournfully wondering you didn’t get any flowers.
Anyway, I decided to make this weekend a big baking bonanza, as well as buying some jazzy papercraft bits and pieces to work on, and a gorgeous new phone case. After the fixing it’s gone through, hopefully my phone battery will now actually last longer than an hour!
The first bake of the weekend is simple, but unparalled in all its wonderful qualities. I don’t think there’s anything more luscious that a thick layer of vanilla-flecked mascarpone cream, and rich jewelled jam, to sandwich a golden butter-rich sponge of highly calorific proportions.
I never normally take photos during the assembly process, but the cream looked so beautiful thickly swirled that I couldn’t help but snap a couple of pictures.
There’s such a satisfaction to swirling on the jam, being ever so careful to keep it just within the confines of the mascarpone. This is only if you are pernickity about neatness, and I’ve found this to be the best way of stopping the filling oozing out over the sides.
Another tip to minimise mess is to wrap small pieces of clingfilm around the edge of the cake stand when assembling the cake. After dusting the icing sugar over the cake, carefully remove the pieces of cling, and there you have minimal excess icing sugar to tidy up afterwards!
Now time to cut the cake into generous slices. Add in a few more gratuitous shots of cake and offspring.
I used Waitrose extra fine sponge flour to see if it would make any difference to the lightness of the sponge. Whilst I wouldn’t specially buy sponge flour for future cakes, the fineness of the flour did lend itself to a lovely light, delicate-textured crumb. It’s probably something that could be replicated with Nigella’s tip of replacing some of the flour with cornflour, and judicious sifting.
I also ran out of the usual milk for loosening the batter to dropping consistency, so replaced with a dollop of natural yoghurt and soy milk, which worked a treat.