Raspberry and Vanilla Cake
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    Serves 12
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Quite often I get asked to bake birthday cakes for guests, which I enjoy doing. I do love a good bit of cake myself and if it’s not a rich dark triple chocolate number, then I do quite like making a tasty raspberry and vanilla cake.

My secret to creating this really delicious cake is a few key ingredients, including good-quality unsalted butter, fresh ripe raspberries and large free-range eggs, all of which contribute to the overall colour and depth of flavour. My final special touch is vanilla seeds freshly scraped from a vanilla pod and these add a touch of sophistication to this tremendous and tasty cake.

My feeling always is that if I’m going to do something, then I had better do it well. It’s quite expensive in terms of making a good cake, but in my opinion, cheap ingredients equal a tasteless product.

For the filling, I have used raspberry jam and again I prefer my own home-made raspberry jam. However, if you are going to buy raspberry jam, then buy the best; Tiptree make some very tasty jam indeed and the consistency is good. I look for a jam that has a fresh taste, but most of all is thick and not too runny. The runnier the jam the more diluted the taste will be and it won’t stick to the cake, plus you’ll need to use more of it.

Finally for the decoration, Mr P absolutely hates star nozzles for piping bags, but he has been converted to my slightly contemporary approach to using the star nozzle. I also finish the cake with plenty of fresh raspberries, and some freeze-dried raspberries then add a touch of class. Finally, and this is purely optional, a light spray of edible silver gloss spray (available from many major supermarkets) makes it shine.photo of Raspberry and Vanilla Cakephoto of Raspberry and Vanilla Cake

Ingredients & Method

For the Victoria sponge cake

  • 340g unsalted butter, softened
  • 340g caster sugar seeds scraped from
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 340g self-raising flour
  • 80ml milk

For the vanilla buttercream

  • 340g unsalted butter, softened
  • 340g icing sugar
  • seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod

For the raspberry filling and decoration

  • 150g good-quality thick raspberry jam
  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberries
  • edible silver gloss/ shimmer spray, to finish (optional)

First make the Victoria sponge cake. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Grease two 20cm sandwich cake tins and line the bases with greaseproof paper. Set aside.

Cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla seeds together using a mixer fitted with a balloon whisk on high speed for about 6 minutes, until pale in colour and creamy and fluffy in texture. Add one egg at a time and mix well after each addition. Sift the flour twice and then add it to the creamed mixture, folding it in gently. Fold in the milk until combined.

Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins and level the surfaces. Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tins for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out the cakes on to a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely.

To make the vanilla buttercream, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer, sift the icing sugar over the butter, then add the vanilla seeds. Cream together using the balloon whisk attachment until pale in colour and fluffy and creamy in texture.

To assemble the cake, carefully cut each sponge cake in half horizontally to make 4 layers of sponge cake. Spread a good helping of raspberry jam on one side of one cake layer, reserve some fresh raspberries for the decoration, then slice a few of the remaining fresh raspberries in half and arrange them over the jam. Spread a thin layer of the buttercream on top, then place a second layer of sponge cake on top. Spread this with jam, top with halved raspberries and thinly spread with buttercream as before, then repeat this one more time with a third layer of sponge cake. Top with the final (fourth) layer of sponge cake.

Cover the entire cake with most of the remaining buttercream, spreading it evenly all over. Spoon the rest of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then cover the top of the cake with small buttercream kisses. Decorate the cake with the reserved fresh raspberries and then sprinkle over the freeze-dried raspberries. Finish with a light spray of edible silver gloss spray, if you like. Serve.

Cook’s Note
This cake will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remove from the fridge a little while before serving to bring the cake back to room temperature.