2016 has not been a kind year thus far. Now we are in March. Three months in. A third of the way through the year. Yup. Time is, quite literally, flying by. I can probably safely say that 2016 will not be a vintage year for me. Bad news followed by more bad news. My source of joy and escape has come from running. After over a year of being out of the fitness game due to injury I knew I needed to do something and it needed to be cheap as possible. And it doesn’t cost a dime to pull on your running shoes where ever you are and step outside. When I moved to London, my housemate Eilis got me to sign up to my first ever half marathon which was only 6 weeks away. It was the best thing I could have done! Evenings after work were spent sprinting up hills and Sundays mornings were all about 10km runs round north London. It gave me focus and drive, when you have your headphones in you can just zone out and not think about anything except you and the road. It’s the best form of therapy. Last weekend was my marathon, down in Brighton going along the sea front past the piers and the bandstand. The weather was dry with a bit of a breeze, perfect running conditions. I would have liked to have smashed it in under two hours but I managed at 2.08 hours, alright for my first one I reckon (I did end up in the medical tent though after aggravating an old knee injury, spent an hour in the medical tent with an ice pack on and sipping Lucozade like a drama queen. Poor Eilis had to come and rescue me). I have another half lined up for May to keep the training going. For anybody else going through a bit of a rough patch or just had a bad day at the office, I would totally recommend running (or any exercise for that matter), even if you can only run to the lamp post. Then the next time to the end of the road. Before you know it you might be doing a half marathon of your own!
Spring is in the air! This week the temperature is set to hit a balmy 14 degrees here in London, scorchio! With that in mind I thought I would use the beautiful blood oranges that are currently in season to create this delightful citrus cake. The traditional victoria sponge recipe has plenty of fruity zest running through it and in the middle is an orange and lemon home made curd. It is full of fresh flavours that will make you in the mood for the coming season. Feel free to swop the oranges for limes if you can’t get blood oranges or just use normal oranges if you wish.
- 400g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 400g golden caster sugar
- 8 eggs
- 400g self raising flour
- 100 ml whole milk
- Zest of 6 unwaxed lemons
- Zest of two large oranges
Orange and lemon curd
- 120g butter
- 120g caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of cornflour
- Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons plus the juice
- Zest of two oranges plus the juice
- 200g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- Zest of 4 lemons
- Juice of two lemons
- Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line 2x 20cm sandwich tins
- Beat your butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorperated. Add the zest with the last egg.
- Add the flour and milk and fold in until only just come together, be careful not to over mix.
- Divide between the two tins and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in their tins to cool on a wire rack.
- As they cool, make your curd. Add the ingredients to a saucepan and gently heat, stirring all the time with a balloon wisk. After about 5-6 minutes, the mixture will start to thicken. Stir for one more minute then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to stop it from over cooking. Allow to cool.
- Make your buttercream by beating the butter on its own for 3 minutes. Add the milk and zest. Add the icing sugar gradually along with the milk until desired sweetness is achieved. You may need a little more or less depending on your preference.
- Once your layers have cooled, spread the top of one with lemon curd and buttercream, sandwich on the top layer and cover with buttercream. Top with more lemon curd or freshly cut fruit.