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...
(based on recipes in Tamasin Day-Lewis's Kitchen Bible and Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course)
155g softened butter
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.