Monday, 13 August 2007
Recipe for Victoria Sponge Cake or Recipe for Disaster ?
His Lordship always declares that one of the very many reasons why he married me was because of my astounding ability to knock out a first rate sponge cake. Victoria sponge being my forte, lemon frosted sponge cake his weakness and my strength. Until yesterday that is, when it really mattered. One of the guests had asked if I could produce a birthday cake. 'No problem' I assured her, I'll do it in my sleep and thought no more about it. Yesterday morning the kitchen at Le Chateau was filled with beautiful fresh speckled brown eggs sitting patiently waiting to be cracked open and land with a gloop into the creamed butter and sugar. My large mixing bowl was on a damp cloth, slightly placed an an angle for that extra 'beat'. Nobody could have held the sieve higher and sprinkled the self raising flour, oh so gently like drifting snowflakes and lovingly folded in with a tablespoon. I didn't recognise what came out of the oven so started afresh but even the second time around it was a dismal failure. I poured over Delia's recipe, I poured over The Good Housekeeping recipe for Victoria sponge cake, I was following it to the letter.
It was a hot Sunday in August at the height of the season in France. I had run out of ingredients, I had five minutes to go before the shops shut bang on midday. Think acute pandemonium, think desperate, despair, deranged. The car spluttered and roared into life and I drove wildly up a steep hill into the neighbouring village of Fanjeaux and fell into the bakers head swivelling madly. And there sitting right in front of me were three Madeleine sponge cakes. A pure stroke of luck, a feeling of lightheartedness and joy surged through me. There were two other people in front of me but I literally snatched them out of the woman's hand and flew back down the hill again. After that I felt completely exhausted and proclaimed myself unfit for further work, not that anyone was listening.
Still with the utterly glorious weather and the sound of gentle enjoyment eminating from the pool I wasn't going to let a small matter of a failed sponge cake ruin an otherwise near perfect day.