Maximum impact with just a bit of effort and a wonderful centrepiece for any special occasion, even a small wedding. Everything on the cake is edible: crystallised roses, dog roses from the hedgerow, daisies, cherries and currant. For children, cover with sweets or biscuits. Just use your imagination!
Cook Time<55 minutes
Serves30 (For the top tier (15cm, serves 6); Middle tier (20cm, serves 8); Base tier (25cm, serves 16))
- FOR THE CAKES
- 175g (225g;550g) unsalted butter, really soft, in pieces, plus more for the tins
- 175g (225gt; 550g) self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tsp (1;2) baking powder
- 3 eggs (4;8), lightly beaten
- 1 tsp (1;2) vanilla extract vanilla extract
- 175g (225g; 550g) golden caster sugar
- FOR THE FILLING
- 100ml (200ml; 300ml) clotted cream, whipped
- 4 tbsp (8;8) jam of your choice, plus more to stick
- Icing sugar to dust
- For the decoration
- Crystallised flowers
- 200g cherries with stalks
- 150g redcurrants with stalks
- TO ASSEMBLE
- 3 round thin cakes boards:15cm; 20cm; 25cm
- 8 dowelling sticks
- 30cm cake stand or serving plate
For the Classic Victoria Sandwich:
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Butter the three round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. To make this all-in-one cake, you can use a food mixer, a large bowl and a hand held electric whisk, or a food processor.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, sugar and butter. Cream together thoroughly, but not too enthusiastically as you want a light sponge. Fill in turn, a 15 cm deep round cake tin, two 20 cm sandwich tins and two 25 cm sandwich tins with the batter. It’s best to make the batter and bake the cakes one batch at a time. The batter in the 15 cm tin needs to be twice as deep as that in the other tins. Bake the 15 cm cake for 50-55 minutes (because it’s very deep), the 20 cm cake for 25-30 minutes, and the 25 cm cake for 30-35 minutes.
Leave the cakes in their tins for a couple of minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Leave until cold. When ready to serve, cut the small cake in half horizontally and select the best-looking cake for the top. Spread with cream. Spread the flat side of the top cake with the jam. Sandwich the two cakes together.
Attach each cake to the right-sized cake board with a blob of jam. Check they are all level and, if not, trim them level with a serrated knife. At this stage they can be stored in the fridge for quite a number of hours, ready to be assembled a few hours before required. Dust all three cakes with icing sugar.
Insert four dowelling sticks vertically into the largest cake spacing them apart to form a square sitting just within where the middle cake will rest. Push each stick down on the board until it will go no further, them mark with a pen about 1 mm above the surface. Remove each stick, score where is it marked with and knife and snap. Replace the sticks into the holes. Repeat for the middle tier.
To stack the three cakes, simply place the largest cake, still on its board, on to a cake stand. Place the middle tier on top, checking it is exactly in the centre, then add the top tier.
Now the cake is all ready for decorating. And this couldn’t be simpler. Once you have crystallised you flowers simply arrange them on the cake with the cherries and currant. (A few carefully placed cocktail sticks can be useful to drape the fruit from.) You will have to decorate the cake on site, as it cannot be moved once the flowers and fruit have been arranged.
Seasonal Baking by Fiona Cairns (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) Photography: Dan Jones