Limoncello + Balsamic Strawberry, Victoria Sponge Teacake

Limoncello + Balsamic Strawberry, Victoria Sponge Teacake
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My Mum was an incredible baker and, like so many women of her generation in Ireland and England, one of her best recipes was for a Victoria Sponge. Mum used to follow the tried and tested 4, 4, 4, and 2 method ~ aka in 4 ounces butter, 4 ounces sugar, 4 ounces flour and 2 eggs as when my Mum was growing up in Ireland imperial measurements were the standard. I have used this same ratio in this cake but upped the quantities somewhat to provide more batter.

I am also somewhat in an Italian frame of mind at the moment, as I have just started booking hotels in Italy for my trip there this coming July (woohoo!), so I put a little Italian slant on this cake using two of my favourite cooking ingredients ~ balsamic vinegar and Italian Limoncello liqueur. It's a lovely cake for a Sunday afternoon tea and quite fitting I think to celebrate the WKA book going on sale in the UK and Ireland this past week :)

Note, if you don't have 2 tins, you can just use one and cut the cooked and cooled cake in half horizontally.

INGREDIENTS /

SPONGE

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
1 tsp good quality vanilla essence
1 tbsp Limoncello (or 2 teaspoons lemon juice)
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk

FILLING

400g fresh strawberries, hulled + quarterer length-ways
2 tbsp Limoncello (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
2 tsp top-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
Small handful fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

YOU WILL ALSO NEED

200ml mascarpone
100ml pouring cream
Icing sugar for dusting

METHOD /

Pre-heat oven to 180˚C (350˚F).

Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.

Grease and line 2 x 20cm spring-form round baking tins.

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and a super creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in-between each addition. If the mixture looks curdled, don't worry, it will often look like this, it's
perfectly normal.

Add the vanilla essence then the sifted dry ingredients in 2 or 3 additions and fold in gently to combine followed by the Limoncello and milk. When batter is thoroughly combined, divide between the 2 pre-lined baking tins, spreading out evenly with a small angled spatula, give the tins a light tap on a counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

While cakes are baking, add the strawberries, sugar, Limoncello and balsamic into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to low, add the chopped mint and allow to simmer gently for 7-8 minutes. Note: you want the fruit to soften but not fall apart. When fruit is softened, strain fruit into a bowl retaining the syrup. Set the strained fruit aside and allow to cool slightly. Return the syrup to the same saucepan, set it over medium heat and allow to simmer and reduce by half. Remove pan from heat and pour over cooked fruit.

Fold cream and into mascarpone and stir until smooth.

To assemble cake, spread mascarpone cream over the top of the bottom cake and top with the fruit. Cover with the second sponge and liberally dust top with icing sugar.

Serve with a big pot of hot tea or glass of champagne :)