The window is streaked with fast falling raindrops as the chive blossoms in my window ledge herb box are battered by the rain. It’s the last day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations – the somberest day of cathedral services and processions, mimicking the weather. A cup of tea steams in front of me and I shudder as my eyes flick from the rain soaked street to the tv – throngs of people line Pall Mall, cheering and waving flags amid bobbing umbrellas as the Queen steps out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace. She waves, and the crowd erupts.
London has been hijacked for four days of spectacular pomp and celebrations, like only the English can, to celebrate Her Majesty’s 60th year on the throne. And celebrate, London has. The city has been clad in red, blue and white bunting – with street parties, tea parties, 1000 boat flotillas, processions, concerts, trumpeters, firing squads, singing, cheering, and flag waving and heartfelt patriotism across a diverse nation, come rain or shine.
And so this is my Jubilee offering – a cake that epitomises everything that is quintessentially English – light vanilla sponge, summer raspberries and whipped cream.
Butter two 8 inch (20cm) cake tins and line the bottoms with grease-proof baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C in a fan oven).
Weigh the eggs and set them aside – mine weighed 265g. Weigh out the same amount of butter, cube it and place in a bowl, and the same amount of caster sugar and place in the bowl with the butter. Weigh out the same amount of flour and set it aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add one egg at a time, ensuring it is fully incorporated before you add the next one. Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
Sift in the flour and fold gently into the mixture. Divide the mixture equally between the two cake tins and spread flat with a spatula.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and when inserted a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Whip the cream and the vanilla extract until soft peaks form, being careful not to over whip it (although not a disaster, mine was slightly over whipped). Lay one of the layers on a cake plate and spread the jam evenly over it.
Carefully spread the whipped cream on top of the jam. Half the raspberries and layer them onto the cream.
Place the second sponge on top of the raspberries, and dust with icing sugar. Decorate with any left over raspberries – and serve on a beautiful cake stand.