After a few weeks of indecisive flitting between hot and cold, the weather in Dhaka has taken a turn to the sultry. Back to fans and humidity-enlarged hair. Alongside the sultry heat is a somewhat (read: very) tumultuous feel in the air. Dhaka is not a happy city right now. As to the causes of unhappiness – voicing public opinions seems to be a health hazard these days, so I’ll stick to the neutral subject of cake. Everyone likes cake, let’s all be happy for a moment. Sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of scrumptious sponge cake. Scroll down for the recipe below if my blogging banter is boring you (I won’t be offended, it’s for the cake – I understand).
Hartal season is in full swing, and we are currently in the middle of a three day spate. With my Bar Council Viva Voce Examination around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity for me to utilise this time off work and revise. Today, I had all the intentions of buckling down and losing myself in all the intricacies of criminal and civil procedure (hah!). I sat down with my revision guide and was greeted with the enlightening words of encouragement in its introduction: “Destiny favours the brave. So do not be afraid of the oral test, however don’t show over-smartness before the Viva Board.” Got it. Brave, smart-but-not-too-smart.
But then…my 6-year-old cousin came to visit, with a gift for me. A grand total of three whole strawberries and the expectation that I must bake something wonderful because “stowbewies are my favourite”. As she gingerly transferred the strawberries from her small palms into my own and then looked up at me with an expression that said please-turn-this-into-cake, I realised that my hartal-turned-revision day was inevitably going to turn into a cake day instead.
Orange and Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake
I adapted this recipe from Mary Berry, changing the flavour of the sponge slightly to give it an orange kick that I think teams up quite wonderfully with the strawberries.
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar*
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Grated zest of one orange or 1 teaspoon good quality orange extract
225g self-raising flour**
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
Double cream, whipped
Three fresh strawberries, lovingly given
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, grease and line two round 8-inch cake tins.
2. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs and orange zest (or extract) to mixture and beat until well combined.
4. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and gently fold in until incorporated.
5. Divide mixture between prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes are golden and the tops bounce back when lightly pressed.
6. Once cakes have cooled, sandwich together with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Decorate with fresh strawberries and sifted icing sugar.
*I have not yet been able to find caster sugar in Dhaka. I make my own by processing granulated sugar until I am happy with the fine-ness of it!
**Self-raising flour is also quite hard to come by. It is ridiculously easy to make your own though: 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 200g plain flour. Whisk together, then sift together. I usually make a whole lot in one go for ease of use later on! It should be noted, the composition of American self-raising flour is slightly different, with the addition of salt too – see Smitten Kitchen entry on how to make it here.