My recent invitation to become a competitor on the cookery programme Britain’s Best Dish has got me thinking about what makes a true British classic and whether, in making that dish ‘allergy friendly’, it becomes any less classic. Despite our slightly dubious culinary reputation, the British have some wonderfully varied and distinctive signature dishes. We all know and love fish and chips or bakewell tart, and everyone loves a good Sunday roast, and yet because these dishes are so familiar to us we forget that the reason they are so firmly entrenched in the British psyche is because they are genuinely lovely dishes. These are recipes, tried and tested, passed down from generation to generation and cooked in times of comfort, times of celebration and sometimes, just in time for supper.
My belief is that allergy friendly food should be a simple pleasure to cook, eat and enjoy. For me, there should be no need to cook one meal for one person and another for everyone else. Good food is quite simply, good food; and if something tastes delicious and is a joy to make then there is no need to give it a particular label, or its own isolated kitchen, it becomes just a delicious dish that happens to be allergy friendly.
I love the challenge that comes with taking a classic recipe and making it allergy friendly, and no more so than with puddings and cakes. There is something joyous about baking a cake (with or without the 1950’s housewife references) and there is nothing quite like being given a homemade cake on your birthday – it’s special, it’s heartfelt and it tastes all the better for it. No one should have to miss out on a bit of cake based celebration and everyone should have a cake that they feel proud to share (if, of course, you are the sharing type, it is your birthday after all) and so here, for all those birthdays, celebrations and afternoon tea’s, is my British classic with a modern twist: the Victoria Sponge.
This particular cake is in honour of my sister’s birthday, without whom I would never have been brave enough to follow my greatest dreams and who I love dearly. Plus, she is a pretty mean baker herself so you may want to check out some of her delectable creations on her site: Create & Borrow . Viva Miranda!
A BRITISH CLASSIC: VICTORIA SPONGE
For the cakes
150g/6oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
150g/6oz butter replacement – Pure Sunflower Spread
150g/6oz golden caster sugar
2 eggs – 2 heaped tsp Orgran No Egg Egg Replacer whisked together with 4 tbsp water
3 tbsp rice milk
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp xantham gum
A few drops of vanilla extract
A little icing sugar for dusting
For the filling
2 tbsp strawberry jam
For the cream
200g raw cashew nuts
1tsp agave syrup
100ml rice milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
The seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Begin by making the vanilla cream: Place the cashew nuts, almond milk, agave syrup and vanilla extract in to a high powered blender and blitz until completely smooth, thick and creamy. Scrape out the vanilla seeds from their pod and stir in to the cream. Transfer to a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.
Preheat the oven to 190c (170c Fan) and line and grease two 20cm (8 inch) round springform cake tins. Cream together the butter replacement, caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale, light and fluffy. Beat in the egg replacer, bit by bit, until fully combined (don’t worry if the mixture looks a little split at this point, the flour will pull it back together). Mix in the flour, baking powder, xantham gum and rice milk and mix until you have a smooth cake batter.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and place in the hot oven, on the middle shelf and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cake is springy to a light touch. Remove from the oven and carefully turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, trim the strawberries and cut into quarters. Spread the strawberry jam over the top of one of the cakes and then carefully spoon over the vanilla cream. Scatter over the strawberries and top with the remaining cake. Sift over a little icing sugar and serve.