18 May 2008

Happy Victoria Day!

Or, as 'tis known around here May Two-Four.

A little background: In 1854 the Province of Canada's legislature declared 24 May an official holiday, marking Queen Victoria's birthday. Since then, 24 May became the official holiday of Canada's reigning sovereign.

I can see you flipping to your calendar and I can hear you thinking "But it isn't 24 May, silly...it's the 18th (or 19th, or...)"--yes, I can hear your thoughts...scary isn't it? You're right, it isn't the 24th, but we're celebrating anyway: in 1952 the Statutes of Canada were amended to celebrate Victoria Day on the Monday before 24 May. Hence this year we celebrate on 19 May.

Yes, the date is also a public holiday in the Cayman Islands and some parts of Scotland.

Around here most people seem to focus on familial kinda things: some head up to open up their cottages for the summer, others potter about in their gardens--clearing winter's detritus and plant seeds or plantlets, while some others (like me) use it for a spring cleaning.

Many people also use this weekend to fire up their barbecues for the first time...with which they (and their friends/families/whatevers) quench their thirsts with a two-four (case of 24 bottles of beer).

Me, I don't have a barbecue...it's on my long-term list of things to buy. Beer and I aren't the best of friends...let me rephrase that. I like beer, but I value breathing more--I react to most commercially-made beers (think BIG breweries)--craft brewers are fine...and I'm very fine with Guinness (but you know that already).

So, how shall I celebrate? Well, with a Victoria Sponge, of course. As best as I can figure, a Victoria Sponge (or sandwich) is made up of two layers of sponge cake with a layer of jam between. Sometimes it's jam and cream, or cream and fresh fruit. I read somewhere that it is never, ever iced and that Queen Victoria preferred this cake with her tea.

Well, if it's good enough for Queen Victoria...and I've been looking for a reason to open the jar of apricot jam in my cupboard...

Victoria Sponge
(based on recipes in Tamasin Day-Lewis's Kitchen Bible and Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course)

155g softened butter
155g sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
155g self raising flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 180C/350F and prepare two 20cm/8" cake pans in the usual way.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then slowly add in the eggs. Quickly fold in the flour. Add in enough water so the batter is of a soft, dropping consistency. Divide batter between the pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes pull away from the sides and the top is springy. Let cool completely before assembling.

Warm the jam (three or four tablespoons) and pour on top of one of the cakes, spread with a knife (or a spoon, or whatever is most convenient) and place the second cake on top.


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Katerina said...

Happy May Long! We are about to fire up the barbie as we speak. And as you say we aren't drinking beer as much as copious amounts of wine. But this year the sun god has smiled and it makes it worth celebrating in all the stereotypical ways.

K and S said...

nice way to celebrate :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Don't you just love how the law makers can make 24 into whatever!
Love the cake Jasmine. Yes I'd agree if it's good enough for Victoria, I think I'd find it fine and dandy too. Especially if you share that jar of apricot jam with me;))

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I remember my Canadian mother-in-law talking about a Victoria Sponge, but I never knew what it was.

Anonymous said...

Ahh! Very interesting! Happy Victoria Day! Your Victoria Sponge Cake looks delicioso.


Patricia Scarpin said...

I have seen recipes for Victoria Sponges in some of the books I own but have never tried it. Yours look so tender and delicious, Jasmine!

glamah16 said...

I have to learn all of these Cnadian hoilidays. BTW I'll be back in July.

Sumppinoita said...

Thanks for introducing this holiday :) I have never heard of it, probably because I am not too familiar with canada ;)

By the way, I hope it's okay that I put you into my blogroll?

Anonymous said...

Happy Victoria Day to all Canadians! :) That recipe sounds really good, too. Thanks!

Lisa Turner said...

Yes, that sounds just right, with a glass of red wine.

Joy said...

A belated happy Victoria Day! I love 'Vicky Sponge' as my friend calls it. I once made it for a cake making competition at a village show when I was 10 (after baking many trial runs first to 'practice') yum!

Anonymous said...

I love the little peeks that you give me into Canadian culture!

Gigi said...

The cake looks great! And Happy Belated Victoria Day!

Inne said...

Had no idea the 24th was Queen Victoria's birthday - I'm just happy with the bank holiday we get over here! A bbq is also on my list of things to buy - every spring I'm determined to get one, but somehow it hasn't happened yet. Your sponge looks absolutely lovely.

jasmine said...

Hello all!

Glad you like the cake. As Nigella shows in Domestic Goddess, the basic sponge can be turned in to a myriad of sandwich cakes.