The last 6 weeks have been an emotional and difficult time for my family and I, and sadly, only yesterday (16th April) my lovely Nana passed away after a short battle with her health.
Not news you should be sharing on a blog, but without my Nana I would not have my website or blog, and as such, I felt it only fitting to not only mention her passing, but to dedicate a recipe to her, which would only be right to call Nana cake. I baked from being a toddler every weekend with my Nana, and she taught me all her secret baking tips and has really championed The Shire Bakery from the get go. She loved lilac and lemon colours, and this cake was made yesterday in her honour, and I think she would have loved it.
My ‘Nana’ Cake is a pretty simple vanilla sponge, with a very nice Strawberry and Champagne jam inside (my Nana loved strawberry and champagne jam), but you can put any flavour jam in this, and it will taste gorgeous. This cake is a great base for any celebration cake, and you can make the cake the day before, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge and cover with a fondant icing too.
You can decorate this cake any way you see fit, and these flowers were real roses. If using fresh flowers, be sure to wrap the stems in cling film so as not to spoil the cake.
(For the cake)
400g unsalted butter at room temperature
400g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or bean paste)
400g self raising flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tablespoons milk or cream
2-3 tablespoons of jam for the filling
(For the icing)
250g unsalted butter at room temperature
500g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or bean paste)
Food Colour Paste (optional)
First of all, turn your oven to 160 degrees fan, 180 degrees, or Gas Mark 4. Now grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
To start, simply cream together your butter and sugar for a few minutes until it goes all pale and fluffy, then, one at a time add your eggs (if the mixture looks like it is starting to split add a spoonful of flour to bring it back together). Add your vanilla, flour and pinch of salt and combine, followed by the milk.
Pour this cake mixture evenly into the cake tins,smooth with a spatula and tap a few times on a hard surface and bake for approx 50-55 mins, or until the sponge bounces back when pressed. It should also be a delicious golden colour. Take out of the oven and leave in the cake tin for 25 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, I would recommend that you wrap these in cling film and put somewhere cool for the night (you can put these in the fridge). This will really help when you decorate so you don’t get crumbs in your buttercream when applying it to the cake.
Now you can make the icing. Using a freestand or handheld mixer, beat the butter for a good 5 minutes, until this goes pale in colour, and add your icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, until you get a lovely white buttercream. If this is too thick, simply add a spoonful or so of milk to loosen it up. If you wish to colour, use a few drops of food colour paste and stir this in now.
To assemble you cake, simply put a small amount of buttercream onto your cake board, and place the first sponge on top (these sponges are quite thick, so you could half each sponge and make this a four layer cake). Now get your jam and using a palette knife or spatula, spread this onto your sponge, followed by a thin layer of buttercream (I use a nozzle to pipe a ring of buttercream, and put a spoonful of buttercream in the middle and spread with a spatula).
Now place your second sponge on top, and using a palette knife or spatula spread buttercream all over the cake. I love making it quite rustic and messy, it looks home made, but feel free to use a cake scraper (or 30cm ruler) and make this really smooth.
Decorate however you wish using flowers, edible flowers or sprinkles, and serve!