I love celebrating happy occasions with family and friends! Who doesn’t, right? Every Valentine’s Day has been special since I met my friend John, as that was the day he was born (25 year ago – wink, wink).
Actually, as we get older, I really do think we are getting better with age. I know it’s a common phrase but it applies to us! With life experiences each year, I think we’ve grown and learned what we need in our lives. With age, I edit what doesn’t matter as much and hold closer what does.
For this celebration, I realized that being with friends was what mattered and holding a candle lit cake close to me while walking with it towards a birthday boy is a little like being in a mini emergency.
The Birthday song was sung quickly while the birthday guy extinguished his cake with a breath of wishes (all of which I hope are coming true!)
John’s birthday cake was adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Victorian Sponge recipe in her book, How To Be a Domestic Goddess.
For the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self rising cake flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 8×2 inch cake pans (about 2 inches deep), buttered and lined with parchment or wax paper. I didn’t have any parchment or wax paper so I had to just butter and flour my pans.
For the filling:
2 – 4 tablespoons raspberry or other jam, depending on berries. I really varied this cause I used my homemade orange marmalade.
1/2 pint raspberries or berries of choice. I could only find strawberries and blueberries so that’s what was used!
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the topping:
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar
So because I had never made this cake before, I tried to follow it very carefully. I followed Nigella’s direction for the traditional way. So, to start, you cream the butter and sugar, add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each. Fold in the rest of the flour and the cornstarch, adding no baking powder, and when all is incorporated, add a little milk as you need.
I then put the batter evenly into the two cake pans and baked for 25 mins, until the cakes begin to come away from the edges, are springy to the touch on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes sit on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to turn them over.
To assemble the cakes, put one cake on a plate, right side up. Spread the jam on the cake, layer the fruit on top of that.
I whipped the cream and ended up adding some sugar to taste to sweeten it since my berries needed a little help. Spread the whipped cream over the berries and carefully sit the other cake on top of the whole thing.
I decided to repeat the marmalade, berries and whipped cream on top of the cake cause I thought it looked pretty and I had plenty to work with.
It was fun making this cake cause I’m a fan of the berry and cake combo most of the time. It was like a decked out strawberry shortcake but Victorian sponge is much richer than an angel food cake obviously. I definitely look forward to trying this recipe again with some other variations of berries and jam.
This wasn’t a traditional birthday cake but it fit the occasion and John liked it. We ate it on a second day too and it was just as good. I covered it with a plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight because of the whipped cream.
If you have a favorite birthday cake or a just-cause-I’m-hungry-for-cake recipe, let me know. I’d love to try the recipe. Thanks for reading!
(and…I have two friends born on Valentine’s Day so special shout out to Dana too! Xoxo)