You know when you taste, hear, or smell something and it transports you back in time? Well it happened to me this week. A WI member was sharing a Victoria Sandwich which was light as a feather, correctly filled with Raspberry jam and adorned with simple castor sugar. One mouthful took me back to being a small child and devouring my Nannas Victoria Sandwich. I can see her making it now in the back kitchen, oil cloth on the table, big cream ceramic bowl, crackled with the passage of time and use, not far from where I sit at this moment- looking at the fells she would know all her life. The cake Nanna produced was a slightly more cooked than the recent one, with a deep golden crusty edge, which I loved! The taste overall was same, a rich buttery sensation with the sharp jam. Nanna made it with such care and love you could taste it in each mouthful.
That event all those years ago was one of the inspirations for me in my cooking journey through life! Another was the fact my mother- Nannas daughter was a supreme accordionist but never a cook. Mum admitted it and gave up even trying! So it was down to me from a quite a young age to bring a new spin on what we were eating. Spaghetti Bolognese, Nasi Goreng- really adventurous in the early 1970’s- and other “experimental” dishes to make meal times interesting.
Another inspiration happened when I went with family friends to visit their relatives in the North east. Again a Victoria Sandwich appeared. But this time it was filled and decorated with fresh cream- a very rare commodity in our house- and big ripe juicy strawberries- my favourite! Oh what a joyous mouthful that was! Back at school the Arts Festival Schedule was out and a decorated Victoria Sandwich was one of the classes. Completing it in school at lunchtime- to keep the precious cream cold as long as possible- I carried it to the appropriate table. In front of me were a cacophony of cakes- garish blue and green slimy icing stick in the brain for some reason- all round cakes but such a wide variety- badly piped, stuck on silver balls, various artistic flourishes, you name it- they were there. We all retreated to await the judging! No hope for a plain Vic Sponge with a few strawberries on then!
How wrong can one be. I won the class. Simplicity, seasonality and good execution won the day.
I repeated the creation for my GSCE Domestic Science exam and was pleased to pass that particular one with a C- my highest grade!
I have asked the WI lady for her recipe. It is still the same as it ever was- the weight in sugar, butter and SR flour of two eggs etc. Nanna would have used the same recipe. Such simple ingredients with an outstanding outcome.
I might just make one today, and as I eat it thank my long gone lovely Nanna for the memories and inspiration!