There are many good reasons for shopping at my local Waitrose: the best parking spot in town, a clean and well laid out store with pleasant and helpful staff, full of good quality groceries and produce. Also, on the production of your ‘My Waitrose’ card, you are offered a free daily newspaper, a coffee and a copy of their excellent monthly magazine full of top food tips and gorgeous recipes.
This month’s cover featured a stunning ‘Star Bake’ cake – a luscious triple-decker sponge, layered with peaches, caramel, whipped cream and nuts. I adapted it for a family tea last weekend (what I had in the cupboard and no nuts!) – went down a storm! Allow about an hour and a half to make it including prep, cooking and cooling downtime. It needs to be eaten on the day as it won’t keep with all that cream and fruit.
- Classic Victoria sponge mix for 2 x 8inch (20cm) tins. 3 eggs, 175 g (6oz) each of golden caster sugar, soft butter, self-raising flour, 2 drops of vanilla essence.
- A jar of Bonne Maman Confiture de Caramel (you can use Dulce de Leche or other good quality thick caramel sauce if you can’t find it). Add a half a teaspoon of sea salt if you want this to have a salted caramel flavour.
- 3 ripe nectarines (nicer than peaches I think – no skin fuzz) and the juice of half a lemon to stop the fruit turning brown.
- 300ml whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, grease and line two cake tins (8inch ones) with baking parchment. You can use 3 tins to get three layers if you have them, or just cut the cakes crosswise in half when they’re finished.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until it’s light and fluffy.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them together. Start beating them into the sugar and butter mix – add a little bit at a time so it doesn’t split. I also add a tablespoon of the flour to the mix to keep it stable.
- When all the egg is incorporated, stir in the vanilla essence and gently fold in the flour. There is no need to sieve flour by the way. The mixture should be a good dropping consistency now – add a teaspoon or two of hot water if not.
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven. It should take 25 to 30 minutes. They should be golden, risen and the centres should feel springy.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave them to cool for a couple of minutes. Turn them out on to a cooling rack and peel the base papers off carefully. Once they are completely cooled, carefully cut one of the cakes in half with a broad-bladed, large knife so you will have three layers.
- Whilst the cake is cooling, whip the cream until stiff and set aside in the fridge until you need it.
- Slice the nectarines thinly and toss them in lemon juice to stop them browning.
- To assemble: Slather the bottom layer first with half the caramel, then nectarines, then half the cream. Repeat for the next layer. Top the cake with the remaining nectarine slices and sieve a little icing sugar over the top. Stand back and admire it – take a picture now because once it’s on the table, it will be demolished very quickly!
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