Welcome to Round Three of my Strawberries and Cream Challenge. I have something a little different for you today. I was going to make a Victoria Sponge cake, but then my Mother and I were invited to spend the afternoon with friends in their garden. I decided to make the cake to take with me- the problem? One friend is gluten free and the other a vegan. I love vegan and GF baking, as they both pose fascinating challenges. I did a little research, explored some of the fantastic blogs out there for vegan baking, and came up with this-
Round Three- Wimbledon Crown Cake, a vegan/GF take on a Victoria Sponge.
For the Jam:
500g Caster Sugar
500g of Strawberries
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
For the Cake:
350g of Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour
100g of Ground Almond
300g Caster Sugar
1tsp of Baking Powder
1tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
200 ml of Diary Free Milk (I used almond to go with the ground almonds)
200ml of Diary Free Yoghurt (I used a vanilla flavoured soya yoghurt)
175ml of Sunflower Oil (you could use vegetable oil but I prefer the taste of sunflower when baking)
1 tbsp of White Wine Vinegar
For the Icing:
1 tins worth of Aquafaba (chickpea water- simply buy a tin of chickpeas)
¼ tsp of Cream of Tartar
50g of Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Both gluten free and vegan baking are delicate procedures and require patience. They also require a gentle touch but if you can get them right, it is well worth the work. This cake is utterly delicious, it’s hard to believe it is made without the ingredients that make most bakes worth eating.
To make the Jam
Hull (take of the green tops) and chop up the strawberries. How much you chop them up depends on the size of your strawberries and how chunky you like your jam. Remember that the fruit does break down as you cook it.
Put the sugar, lemon juice and zest, along with three tablespoons of water into a large saucepan. Heat slowly until the sugar has melted.
Add the strawberries and stir thoroughly.
Put a small saucer or side plate in the freezer.
Bring to a roiling boil. Keep stirring regularly to prevent the mixture from burning and sticking to the base of the pan.
If your pan isn’t big enough (mine wasn’t) it is likely to boil over, getting sticky strawberry sugar all over your stove top.
After ten minutes place a small amount of the mixture onto the plate, put it back in the freezer for a moment to chill a little. This will allow you to test how set the jam is. Ideally you want it to stay on the plate even if the plate is held up vertically.
Keep boiling and testing the jam until it has reached the thickness/set you prefer. For cake I like my jam to be well set as it stops it from seeping out when you cut into it.
Once you have reached the set you like, put the jam into jam jars. Make sure you have cleaned the jars in boiling water first. Depending on the size of your cake, this recipe is likely to make more jam than you need. Keep the rest for further baking (or just eat it on toast!).
To make the cake
Preheat your oven to 160C-180C. Once again, you know your oven better than I do. Mine is fan assisted and I tend to go for about 160C when trying to get a good rise out of GF flour.
Line your cake tin with greaseproof paper, or coat in sunflower oil and a thin layer of flour. I prefer using oil and flour as there is no waste. If, unlike me, you have two tins the same size, prepare both so that you can bake both pieces of the cake at the same time.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, almond, sugar, bicarb and baking powder.
In a second bowl mix together to almond milk, diary free yoghurt, oil and white wine vinegar.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together gently until just combined. Mix them as little as possible.
Spoon half the mixture into your tin, setting aside the rest to bake for once your tin is free. If using two tins, split the mixture evening between them.
Place your tin/s in the oven. Try and keep them towards the centre. Bake for 35-45 minutes. I check after 35mins. When opening the oven to check open the door slowly so that cold air doesn’t rush in.
Once baked, leave to cool fully. It is vital to leave the cake to cool completely before handling it. You can run a pallet knife about the edge of the cake while still warm but that’s it. Even if using your tin a second time try to be patient. GF flour is delicate, even more so without diary. You will have more luck with the sponge if you handle it when full cooled.
Once cooled prepare the tin a second time, fill with the rest of the cake mix and bake as before. Remove and leave to cool.
To make the Icing
Aquafaba is a weird and wonderful thing. It is the liquid in a tin of chickpeas. If you empty the tin through a sieve into a bowl, and set aside the chickpeas, the liquid in the bowl is aquafaba. It is a cloudy looking, slightly smelly liquid that behaves remarkably like egg white. I don’t know the science behind it, though I am sure the internet has the answer for anyone who wants to look it up. What I know is it can be used to make meringue, mayonnaise and more. It is also a fantastic substitute for the cream normally found in a Victoria Sponge.
Place the aquafaba water into a large bowl with the cream of tartar.
Keep the chickpeas for any number of brilliant recipes later.
Using a handheld electric whisk, whisk the aquafaba until soft peaks form, then add the vanilla essence.
Keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Once again, be patient. Aquafaba takes longer to reach this point than egg whites.
To assemble the cake
Gently place the first half of the cake on a chopping board/cake board, anything completely flat.
Place the jam over the cake in dollops using a teaspoon until you have covered the surface. Do not try spreading the jam as you would on a regular cake, you are likely to break the sponge.
Gently spoon the aquafaba icing into a piping bag with a medium sized star nozzle. Pipe over the jam. I do this in little drops like meringue kisses. I find it easier to control than piping concentric circles or a spiral.
Very gently, using whatever tools you have to help, place the top of the cake over the filling.
To decorate use slices of strawberries and more icing around the outside and over the top of the cake. How you design this is up to you! I would love to see photos of your cakes to see what did!
I hope you enjoy this cake, let me know how you think it compares to a traditional Victoria Sponge!