Juliet's Jubilee bakes
In the first of a new series, Juliet Sear is celebrating the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.
She’ll be taking in the wonders of Windsor Palace, before meeting the Queen’s former chef Darren McGrady for afternoon tea on the Thames.
After learning what it's like to work for HRH, she’ll be finishing off the day by baking a delicious Union Jack Victoria Sponge - it doesn’t get much more British than that!
Union Jack cake
This celebratory flag cake looks really impressive but it’s so simple to create when you know-how.
2 x (20 x 30cm) traybake tin (or do in batches if only one tin), greased and lined with baking parchment
Stand mixer with the paddle attachment, electric beater or bowls and wooden spoon
Ruler/tape measure or rolling guides for marking out the cross in the flag
Small sharp knife
Medium and large round piping nozzles or cut a hole in the piping bags (I used 10mm for the red, 7mm for the white and 5mm for the blue)
For the Sponge:(TIP - if you want your sponge and frosting to look very white as opposed to cream, use white vegetable fat instead of the butter, or half and half. You may need to add a little more salt and vanilla to taste.)
600g unsalted butter, softened
600g caster sugar
12 medium free-range eggs
600g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
For the buttercream filling and piping
400g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
800g icing sugar
3 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
For the filling
300g strawberry or raspberry jam (optional)
Colouring the buttercream
You’ll need to tint some of the icings for the flag – Keep approximately 350g of it white and colour 300g bright red and 100g blue. Use gel food colourings only to colour the icing. Bright colours like royal blue work well.
For the sponge
1. Preheat the oven to 170c fan/gas 3.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until very light, pale and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time until all incorporated.
4. Dry whisk the baking powder through the flour and fold into the wet mix in increments of 3, making sure it’s gently mixed through.
5. Divide equally between each tin and using a palette knife or similar, level the surface.
6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden and risen, a cake tester or skewer should come out clean from the middle of the sponge when it’s cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the buttercream.If using fresh cream instead of buttercream, it’s best to whip this up to a soft peak consistency, just before topping and decorating.
For the buttercream
1. Add 1/3 of the icing sugar and butter to a stand mixer bowl or mix with an electric whisk or by hand. Mix on a slow setting until all of the sugar is combined into the butter, then add the vanilla.
2. Beat on a medium speed for a minute or so until smooth, then add the remaining sugar in two parts in the same way. Beat until pale, fluffy and soft. Set aside 450g of the buttercream for the filling.
3. Place the first layer of cake onto a large rectangle board, tray or serving platter and spread over with the jam (if using) and the reserved 450g of buttercream for the filling (or top with whipped double cream, depending on preference). Spread over the entire cake, leaving a little border around the edge of the cake so the buttercream or cream does not spill out when placing the second cake on top.
4. Add the second layer of cake to sandwich the filling. It’s best to turn the sponge upside down and have the smooth side that was in the base of the tin uppermost, it will give you a neater finish to spread over and pipe on.
1. Now is a good time to take a look at a picture of a union jack flag to follow the design pattern (it helped me)
2. Spread over the remaining white buttercream (flag design quantities) thinly to cover the top of the cake. Mark halfway lengthways and horizontally to give you a central cross to base the flag piping from. Begin by piping two equal-sized blobs of red on either side of the mark and continue along to build up the lines to give you a wide red flag design across both ways.
3. Now pipe up against the edge of this red cross with the white buttercream in neat blobs to outline it all the way up and down.
4. Pipe with the red blobs from each corner to meet the centre of the cross.
5. Pipe white blobs a little smaller by using less pressure up against these 4 red lines to frame them.
6. Lastly using little blobs, fill the remaining sponge area blue to complete the design.Serve and enjoy!