I’ve got carried away. I took fancy for English TV series. Avidly…I am watching several series in a row. And it was not Sherlock I fell in love for. This passion began with “Hotel Halcyon”, there were a lot of intriguing ingredients mixed into an exciting story, magically unfolding every time new unexpected turn of the tale. Could you imagine how many secrets are kept behind the walls of this glamorous London hotel: historical and family one, military and of state importance, love and espionage, and of course culinary.
As all good films with an amazing and remarkable beginning “Hotel Halcyon” starts (and ends) with a spectacular reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hotel staring fantastic cake. The cake was made, by the way, by the ex- chef of Viennese “Imperial”.
I made a decision: ” I want an English dessert for my birthday too.”
Since my knowledge about British cake is very limited, I had to ask for a help my boss – erudite from London.
Here is the list I received from him on Bloomberg:
Everything sounds so mysterious and sealed, as always it is the case with British.
I surfed Internet for pictures to decipher. All desserts looked sooooooo English and special. A little bit stiffly and ironic, with an English sense of proportion, without Austrian extensive decoration. All designed for the 5 o’clock tea ceremony.
I liked Viktoria Sponge in fact.
Apparently in the middle of the 19th century, the English Queen Victoria fell in love with the new idea of the 5 o’clock tea ceremony. She created as a sweet snack to the tea a sandwich from biscuits and raspberry jam. To add a whipped cream to the jam was innovated already in the 20th century.
The sponge design became so impressive.
The most attractive chick design demonstrates Jamie Oliver’s vegan sponge. For my birthday celebration I ordered a cake from a professional vegan confectioner Anki. Just in case I sent her a Jamie’s recipe with a picture. I received a polite with a cautious touch reply: “I can make a cake as per this recipe, but the reviews are not all enthusiastic and the cream is very fatty. May I suggest my favourite gluten-free biscuit, and cream will be light and not with so many calories?”
“But a design, a design is manageable ?” – I hold my breath. “Certainly” – Anki laughs back.
The recipe, however, turned into a puzzle.
My grandmother was saying that in each house there is its own cooking secret. Anki disclosed me only the ingredients of the recipe (she plans to publish a recipe book soon, where she will disclose hopefully some of her delicious secrets), so the proportions I have to discover myself. I borrowed the proportions from another Austrian vegan confectioner Melanie Kröpfl from her book “Wir backen vegan” (We bake vegan). I have also checked up another 10 – 15 different recipes (and even put together a special board in Pinterest), asked the recipe from Olga Artemova, she has a fantastic vegan recipe collection, personally tested.
Please stand up, The Vegan Sponge of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
Vegan Victoria Sponge Recipe.
- (Gluten -free) Flour – 500 g
- (Coconut) sugar – 250 – 380 g
- Baking powder – 30 g
- Vanilla – 1/2 – 1 tsp
- Lemon zest – 1 tsp
- Sun seeds oil – 270 ml
- Soya milk – 500 ml
- Pre-heat oven up to 180 C. Grease and flour the sides and line the base of 2×25 cm loose bottomed cake tines.
- Mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla) together.
- Mix all liquid ingredients ( lemon zest, oil and soya milk) together in other bowl.
- Combine both parts and whip them by a whisk until it is smooth and creamy.
- Divide the mass equally into 2 tins and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. As soon as the batter turns into golden colour, check it with the wooden kitchen stick and remove tins from the oven.
- Leave them to cool down in the tins and leave them fully to cool down on a wire rack.
- For the classical recipe spread the jam (strawberry or raspberry) over one half of the cake and top with the second cake. Although there is no limitation for our creativity to compose the special edition of the cream for the historical queen cake.
3 Austrian Confectioners Secrets.
1. A liquid oil is recommended for the batter. Sunflower oil with a neutral taste suits well. If you choose although a non-diary margarine, it is better to melt it in advance.
2. Soy milk fits the best to a sponge cake. It contains lecithin and splices the dough well. It gives also a biscuit a pleasant golden color.
3. Mix separately dry ingredients and separately liquid ingredients, and only then combine them together.