This is a classic Victoria sponge cake, made all the more gorgeous with the rhubarb cream filling. Also try filling it with raspberry jam and whipped cream, sliced strawberries and whipped cream, or with fresh, hand-picked blackberries and cream.
For the Cake:
125g (4 ½ oz) butter, softened
175g (6oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
Icing sugar or caster sugar, for dusting
For the Rhubarb Cream
100g (4oz) rhubarb, trimmed and sliced
50g (2oz) sugar
4 tbsp water
75ml (2 ¾ fl oz) double cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour the sides of two 18cm (7in) cake tins, and line the bases with discs of greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter until soft, then gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well all the time. Sieve the flour and baking powder, and stir in gently, then stir in the milk until just combined.
Divide the mixture between the two tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre, so that it will be flat on top when cooked. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when you push it gently. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow it to cool. (Place the cake that will become the top layer on its base so that the top isn't marked by the cooling rack.)
Meanwhile, place the sliced rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan, cover and cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft. Take off the lid and boil while stirring until it is thick. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold in the rhubarb. Sandwich the cakes with the rhubarb cream and sprinkle with sieved icing or caster sugar.
Serves 6-8 / Vegetarian
1 litre (1 ¾ pints) vegetable (or chicken) stock
6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g (1lb) peas, fresh or frozen
250g (9oz) watercress, rocket or spinach, or a mixture of all three, roughly chopped and large stalks removed
200ml (7 fl oz) single cream
Place the stock, spring onions and garlic in a saucepan, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Boil for about 4 minutes, until the onions are soft, then add the peas and continue to boil over a high heat, removing the lid once the mixture comes to the boil. After 1 minute, add the roughly chopped leaves and boil for a further 30 seconds - 1 minute, until the peas and leaves are just tender. Add the cream and liquidise immediately. Then season to taste and serve. Add a tiny blob of crème fraiche or natural yoghurt in the centre, whether serving hot or cold.
Makes 16 slices
150g (5oz) good-quality plain chocolate, chopped
150g (5oz) butter
2 large tbsp golden syrup
225g (8oz) semi-sweet biscuits, such as digestives, crushed (in a bowl with your hands or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
25g (1oz) hazelnuts or almonds, toasted and chopped (optional)
1. Melt the chocolate with the butter and golden syrup in a large bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water on a low heat.
2. Stir in the crushed biscuits and nuts (if using) until well blended. Spread into a 23cm (9in) diameter round cake tin or a 20cm (8in) square tin, lined with greaseproof or parchment paper.
3. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until well set, or pop into the freezer for 45 minutes. Cut into 16 pieces.
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