Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Journey Around the World (of Cake): Victorian Sandwich Cakes

EnglandVictorianSandwich_RT (3)

I always thought that the term "a spot of tea" was reserved for really contrived conversations in fake Cockney accents. Boy was I wrong. Not only to British subjects (that includes you, Canada) enjoy tea, but they seem to have the ability to suck a spot of it down at any time. To be honest, I don't understand the big attraction to the stuff. To me, it's just warm, slightly flavoured water. Long Island Ice tea is pretty good, but I don't think that's the same thing. At all.

The one thing I can get behind is tea time - a mystical point in the day were people throw off the shackles of their oppressors to drink out of dainty cups and eat munchkin sized side-dishes. I'm seriously in love with those little finger sandwiches. Not only do they dispose of the crusts, but they cut them into perfect little triangles. And, as you know, triangles make any food taste better. I wonder if they cut the little cucumbers inside into triangles as well? I'm sure it's not good manners to dissect your food anyway, so I doubt I'll ever be able to find out.

Beyond sandwiches, the mini tea cakes are seriously where it's at. That's why, for this leg of the journey around the world (of cake), I decided to recreate tea time in England.


The Victorian Sandwich Cakes

So what is it?
Think of the best sponge cake you've ever had. Light, fluffy, and the right amount of sweetness. Now plop some tart lemon curd on top of it. Pretty good so far, yeah? Well, what if we take some vanilla bean buttercream and add that do your sweet pile of goodness? Oh yeah. That's right baby. Did I mention this is totally in mini sandwich form? I dare you to pop the whole thing in your mouth. I think think Queen Victoria would have wanted it that way.

When did it first pop out of the oven?
Teatime was a Victorian creation - along with photographs, bicycles, and the first flushing toilet. The Queen found herself needing a bit of a pick-me-up between lunch and supper (probably because of all the naughty things her and Albert were into). To get back her energy, Victoria was served her tea with a variety of sandwiches and light cakes. Sponge cakes with filling were featured heavily during her little tea parties and, since then, have become incredibly popular as light little snack cakes.

Is it worth my time?
Baking a sandwich cake is a bit time consuming - especially when it has two different types of fillings. Baking these in a cupcake tin lowers the baking time a bit, but still gives you the same results. These cakes are elegant and impressive - perfect for a lady's birthday or for a really nerdy steampunk party.

Got a recipe?

EnglandVictorianSandwich_RT (4)

Victorian Sandwich Cakes
Makes about 12 mini cakes

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cake flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) Butter the cupcake pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until really light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix some more. In a separate bowl, whip up the egg yolks until light yellow. Add to your butter mixture and mix it together with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour and mix together - the batter will be really stiff, but don't worry, we'll fix that later. In another bowl, whisk your egg whites until they've reached stiff peaks. Take about a quarter of the egg white and stir it into the batter to lighten it up. Take the rest of the egg whites and carefully fold it into the batter until everything has just begun to come together. Slowly fold in the heavy cream.

3) Spoon two hefty tablespoons of batter to each cupcake tin. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until your cakes are golden and your cupcake tester comes out clean. Set out to cool before frosting.

Lemon Curd
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup and 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 eggs
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch

1) In an saucepan, whisk together the butter, sugar, juice, and zest over low heat and cook for about five minutes. Add the eggs and cornstarch, whisking briskly to combine, and continue to cook while stirring for about 5 to 7 minutes. At this point the mixture will thicken. Remove from heat, pour into a large bowl, and cover tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap is touching the top of the curd, or a real nasty skin will form while cooling. Cool in the fridge for at least one hour before using.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
pinch of salt
confectioners sugar

1) In a mixing bowl, whip up the butter until light and fluffy. Add the extract, the salt, and the bean scrapings and mix some more. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar until you've reached your desired thickness and sweetness. (I believe I used around a cup and a half)

Take two cakes - spread the cooled curd on one side and buttercream on the other. Sandwich the two cakes together and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy with a spot of tea.


Vixie said...

Lemon curd!? That's not a true Victoria Sponge, it should be raspberry jam ;) mind you, thinking about it, it does sound pretty yummy...

Lina Thomlinson said...

Yum! This actually seems do-able and less work than I imagined dainty little tea cakes would be.

C&C Cakery said...

You're totally right, Vixie! But we thought a true tart like Queen Victoria wouldn't mind some lemon curd every now and again ;)

Island Vittles said...

the English obsession with warm beverages drives me crazy at times (I married an Englishman, and the number of times we have to stop for a coffee (he doesn't do tea) sometimes drives me crazy)...that said, what goes better with hot drinks than cake? Your little cakes look perfect for my low-blood sugar time at about 2:30! Theresa

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Oh, these look yummy! I think lemon curd is a delicious option...mmmmm.

Anh said...

so delicious! I like the idea of lemon curd filling.

Lorraine said...

These sound very yumm! I am a tea lover and would love a couple of these babies with my tea:)

Naureen said...

I just discovered your blogs and I just love your innovative recipes! I'm actually dying to try my hand at your kulfi cupcakes.

But for this recipe, I wanted to ask if you used a normal cupcake/muffin pan or if you used the mini muffin/cupcake or tart pans?

Also, I'm a college student working with a minimally stocked kitchen/pantry. Any recipes you would recommend? Thanks!

C&C Cakery said...

Hey Noreen! For this recipe, I used a regular cupcake pan. I'm not sure it would work as well with minis - you'd have to watch the time and maybe even tweak the temp - but I'm sure it could be done.

For a college student, I'd recommend our Funfetti cupcakes. They're quick and easy, plus they'll impress your buddies. You might want to switch our swiss buttercream recipe for something less expensive and less time consuming, though. Maybe an old fashioned flour-based one?

Misty for Chocolate said...

What do you mean by 1 1/2 cake flour?

Misty for Chocolate said...

What do you mean by 1 1/2 cake flour?

hopflower said...

Tea time was not invented by Queen Victoria at all. It was started by the Duchess of Bedford, who was a bit peckish in the afternoons (dinner was way off at 8:00 p.m.) so had her staff serve her this treat at about 4:00 or so to ward off hunger pangs. You are describing Afternoon Tea ustims and treats; High tea is super and is served later at around 6:00 and is much more substantial like our dinners. Sometimes it is called Meat Tea, because a full dinner is offered.

Victoria Sandwich is traditionally served with raspberry jam (sometimes strawberry. But lemon curd is often served at an afternoon tea for those who like scones with it.

Eden Passante said...

Wow! These look incredible!

Call girls London said...

It is important to reach more recipients.

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