Travel Blog: Butter, biscuits, and tea

Lydia Marcus–Staff Writer

Tea is an excellent tradition, especially wonderful when it’s served with biscuits or cake. One classically English cake is called a Victoria Sponge. (As is probably self-evident, it’s said to have been a favourite cake of Queen Victoria.) About a month into this semester, I realized that I hadn’t actually eaten this popular dessert yet, so a friend and I set out to remedy the situation one Saturday. We walked down to the nearest Tesco grocery store to pick up ingredients for the cakes, and brought them to our community kitchen, located in the basement of a Victorian house neighbouring our hall. (Pretty appropriate. Of course, the kitchen has been refurnished since the Victorian era, though you can still see the remains of a massive fireplace behind the fridge. The architecture is splendid around here. Have I mentioned that already?)

We were only moderately successful in our cake-baking. We lacked proper pans, so one cake came out weirdly dense and buttery. Even if they didn’t come out quite right, we had fun baking them and our peers seemed to enjoy eating them, that’s what really counts.


Photo By: Lydia Marcus

If you feel inclined to try out this English delicacy, here’s the recipe. I’ve converted the measurements from grams into American-style quantities (e.g. cups and teaspoons), because I’m pretty sure kitchen scales are rare on Dordt’s campus, and I’m not sure that the chemistry department would be especially keen to lend you one of their scales for cooking purposes.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of whole milk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup of raspberry jam

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 8-inch baking pans. (9-inch pans would work too, you’d just have to decrease the baking time by a few minutes.) Combine butter, sugar, and eggs. Then add the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk. Don’t over-mix it, but do make sure you combine the ingredients completely. Put half the batter in one pan, and half in the other. Bake them for 18 to 20 minutes. Once they’re golden brown, take them out and let them cool for five minutes before taking them out of the pans. Once they are quite cool, spread the jam on the top of one layer. Beat the whipping cream until it thickens, then spread it over the jam layer. Put the second layer on top, and serve with some strong black tea.

Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s.

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