Sunday, March 28, 2010

from queen victoria to the queen of graphic design

i spent about two weeks in london, and it reminded me of a few culinary facts:

*london DOES have great coffee (broadway market!)
*some curries are worth hiking up a mountain for (or so stated the menu write up for the best curry i ever had)
*sharon's in stamford hill is worth a bus trip on the 149
*victoria sponge cake- when made right- is AMAZING!

so when i realized i had a very special birthday at the end of my first week back, i set out to make my first victoria sponge cake. shocking that an anglophile such as myself hasn't made one before- i know! i turned to the queen of british cooking, one of my idols, nigella. the cake was for one of my favorite people at work, and in general- willa. not only is she the queen of graphic design, but she's the queen of many hearts at our office. she is also always very complimentary of everything i cook / bake.

the victoria sponge is a pretty basic cake- so i think investing in quality ingredients is important more so than usual. they now sell kerrygold butter at trader joe's which makes me very happy. this cakes takes lots of butter, so this new development made my day. i decided on trader joe's blackberry preserves, because it's my absolute favorite jam they make. i wanted to use clotted cream, but couldn't find any... anywhere! i made fresh whipped cream at the last minute which was nice.

this cake can all be done using one big bowl, and a hand mixer. yes. mix in all the following ingredients- save the milk for last and mix that in slowly.

1 cup unsalted butter (very soft)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 tablespoons milk (mix in with the hand mixer on low)

put in two 8" round pans that are buttered. bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

after the cakes have cooled for a good while, put them on two plates, and put whipped cream on one side, and jam on the other. sandwich together. i used a good amount of jam, so it ran over. i just used a knife to smooth it all out, and covered with powdered sugar. make sure this cake goes in the fridge if you are not serving right away.

this cake was delicious! even my cream-phobic friend rachel was lovvvvving it.

also- a special thanks to my #1 bunny rabbit for serving as sous chef :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

girl bakes in brooklyn takes over london. mmm! LUSH.

on march 2nd, my little brother turned 25. he is studying in london, and i had been trying to figure out a good time to visit. his birthday seemed like a great idea. not only was there a birthday to celebrate, but there were two new babies to see, and friends (that, hell, are like family) to visit. it feels like a second home to me, and every time i visit, i fall in love with something new. 100% of the time i fall in love with a new food or snack. i know london gets a bad rap for having shitty food-- but it's NOT true! if you think that, you haven't been, or you've put no effort into finding something good. eating at the markets alone (borough, broadway, etc) will have you in foodie ecstasy. the curries, the tea, the scones, the biscuits and the cheese are usually AHmazing.

for baby brother's birthday, we took over lock tavern. one of my fave pubs in london, and surely the best one in camden. good beer, cool space, good pub food, CUTE bar staff (for this lady)... i spent the day making good ol american cupcakes and brownies. it involved a trip to morrisons, icing brought in from new york, and a trip on bus 149 through stamford hill, and carrying them through hackney past an old man who called me a 'cunt' (TRUE STORY! such lovely old men live in the east end). in the end, they were very appreciated. everyone was nom nom noming them like mad.