Wednesday 23 May 2012

Bart's Diamond Jubilee Sponge

Whenever anyone throws down the gauntlet for us to take part in a blogger challenge, we're always up for it, whether it involves getting silly with the kids, being artistic or trying out recipes in The Madhouse kitchen, so when we were asked if we'd like to try out a recipe from Bart's Ingredients for a Jubilee-inspired cake, I rattled off an email to say sure, we'd give it a go. Then I looked at the photos of what it's supposed to look like and thought *gulp* have I bitten off more than I can chew ?

The email explained : "We’ve been working with Edd Kimber, winner of The Great British Bake Off to come up with a modern twist on the Victoria Sponge to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this summer. The recipe features a unique and exciting blend of ingredients from all over the world, from cinnamon to our signature Bart Bristol Blended pepper and even a refreshing hint of mint to tingle the tastebuds!" Now, I would never in a million years have thought of putting pepper in a cake but I'll take their word for it that it works !

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a go :

Serves 10
½ tsp Bart Bristol Blend Five Peppercorns
½ tsp Bart Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Bart Ground Ginger
¼ tsp Bart Ground Nutmeg
2 tsp Bart Mint (Freeze Dried)
250g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
250g margarine or butter
250g Bart Vanilla Sugar
4 eggs, beaten
For the filling and topping
250g cream cheese
150ml double cream
100g icing sugar
250g strawberries, quartered
200g blueberries

  1. Grease and line 2 20 cm round sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
  2. Cream together the margarine and vanilla sugar until light and creamy.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the mixture, along with the eggs.
  4. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  6. When completely cool, cut each cake in half horizontally so you have four thin cakes.
  7. To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese, cream and icing sugar until thick and smooth. Spread the cream on top of one cake layer and scatter over one quarter of the strawberries and blueberries. Top with another cake and repeat.
 I was told that we were quite welcome to tweak the recipe, which is just as well as I almost always do anyway !

 First of all, we assembled all the ingredients.

Bart Ingredients had kindly sent us the spices we'd need to make the cake.

Including the Bristol Blend of Five Peppercorns, which comes in a handy jar with an in-built pepper mill, which Juliette had great fun trying out.

Now I have to admit, I had serious reservations about putting pepper in a sweet cake but the Bristol Blend has a fragrant, complex scent (and I imagine taste) that isn't as harsh as normal black pepper. The freshness of the newly-ground peppercorns really brought out the flavours and fragrances too.

I measured out the different quantities of spices from the recipe.

And mixed them quickly into the flour before I wimped out !

I opted for margarine in order to keep it light and fluffy and above all make it easier to mix than with butter. 

Once I'd mixed in the flour, I was surprised that the cake mix was quite thick and firm (but that's probably because I'm so used to using cupcake kits with the kids now !).

Now this is where I deviated from the original recipe for the first time. I decided that, this being a Jubilee cake, I'd get really in the spirit of things and add some red and blue food colouring to the cake mix so that we'd end up with a red, white and blue cake !

Things went totally pear-shaped at this point because - due to a 3-hour-long power cut that started as the oven was pre-heating - I couldn't actually bake the cakes. Hmmmm. 
Luckily this didn't seem to adversely affect the cake mix and I managed to cook the two cakes (in different sized tins because it was all I had) when the power came back on ! The only delicate part is slicing each cake into two parts horizontally but the good thing is, the creamy filling hides a multitude of sins !

I replaced the filling/topping of the recipe with a mixture of marscapone and icing sugar (150g of icing sugar mixed into a tub of marscapone, with some vanilla pod scrapings added in for good measure). This is what the inside of each layer looks like. Yummm !

Here comes the second layer.
And the third, switching to blue sponge now ! 

 And finally the fourth layer. Sophie said that it looked like a wedding cake which made me laugh as I could just imagine wheeling out a blue and red cake for a wedding. "Surprise !!" I have to say, I was quite impressed with the final result though.

And here's our fruity Union Jack. Now, I was convinced that blueberries were really sharp and tart, like blackcurrants, but they're actually really sweet like grapes. The kids have been eating them all afternoon like sweets so I'll definitely be looking out for those again. Discovering a new fruit that they all love is obviously fabulous.

Red, white and blue layered sponge cake - can't get any more patriotic than that ! But the proof of the pudding cake is in the eating - what would we make of the pepper in the cake ? Well, just look at the photos !

Could he actually fit any more in his mouth ?!

Another full mouth over here too ! I had a slice too and was pleasantly surprised. 

You can detect the pepper, if you know it's in there, but it just adds a slight warmth and exotic background taste that works really well with the ginger and cinnamon. The sweetness of the fruit and sweetened marscapone also really complements the slight spiciness of the sponge.  

It's a really impressive dessert, both visually and for the taste. I was a bit nervous about pulling it off but it's actually really simple to make, the only delicate step being the slicing of the cakes into two rounds. If you want a Jubilee street party dessert, this one has real wow-factor and the addition of the unusual spices will have everyone trying to work out what your secret ingredient is !

 If you keep an eye on Bart's Facebook page, you'll see all the other bloggers who have been taking part in the challenge. I can't wait to see their take on the cake - I wonder if anyone else will have red and blue sponge !!

  Disclosure : We received a selection of spices from Bart ingredients, in order to try out the recipe.  

Other blogposts you may be interested in :
  Heinz Barbecue Sauce recipe #3 : Ultimate Barbecue Baked Beans
 My WeightWatchers Supper Club Facebook App Dish #3: Oven Baked Scotch Eggs
Our Pudsey Cake for Children In Need !


  1. I'm going to give this a go, it looks brilliant!

  2. wow, this looks super yummy!xo

  3. Sounds like an interesting recipe, one to put on our list of possible Jubilee celebration foods.

  4. Well done, will have to give this a go love baking cakes :)

  5. Don't forget to add your entries to the Facebook page for your chance to win a prize :) I'd love to see how they come out too :)

  6. That looks fun . What an interesting recipe .. x

    1. I wasn't at all sure about throwing in the pepper but I'm glad I did now !

  7. That looks absolutely amazing! I will have to give it a try

  8. This is one im definetly going to be making sounds and looks delicious Yummy

  9. You are one clever girl, Cheryl! Love how you interpreted the theme and made it your own.

    1. Aww thanks, coming from you that's high praise indeed ! Can't wait to see yours :)

  10. oh my! I love everything about this! I want to make this RIGHT NOW.

  11. Looks brilliant! I had a go at this too, but I didn't dare slice the sponges into four and I absolutely love the food colouring idea!!!! So clever. It amazed me how well the spices worked with a sweet sponge recipe you know. I'll definitely be baking this again but I'll try the food colouring too next time :O)

    1. Oooh did you blog about it ? *scuttles off to have a look*

  12. Mmmmmmmm! this looks lovely, will have to try it!

  13. sounds very different I'll have to have a try! x

  14. Wow sounds just like my thing!

  15. The kids looked like they had fun! And enjoyed their hard work! xoxo

  16. My problem is that the kids would only eat the icing and the fruit, leaving me with the cake (and onother blown diet day!)

  17. Wow, that looks so yummy!
    (oddly when I clicked on this post, for some reason I thought it was going to be about kitchen or bathroom sponges, so it was a nice surprise to see a cake!)

    1. LOL Probably not great for putting in the bath though !! ;-)

  18. I love trying new recipes, this looks wlel worth a try!

  19. A fab dessert, worthy of our great monarch's 60th Diamond Jubilee celebrations :)

  20. wow! look good but it seems lot of effort! but worth it!

  21. I'm definitely going to try this to take to my best friend's jubilee bbq - well done with your attempt - a real show stopper!

  22. Ive got to admit when I was reading the list of ingredients I thought no-way would I try it but seeing the photos of everybody enjoying it I might give it a go now. As you say it just sounds a bit strange.

  23. this looks so yummy id love to give it a go x

  24. thats a mega list of ingrediants! looks yummy though


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