... yesterday marked the 5th annual Aby Village Show which has now become quite the social event in our little rural world. The great and the good of Aby and neighbouring villages turn out in their tens to celebrate all that is wonderful about home-baking, craft of all kinds, fresh home-grown produce and flower arranging... it's a wonderful day full of friendly competitive spirit and the best bit is that all the entries are then auctioned off at the end to raise money for the village hall fund... as many of my readers will know i've had my fair share of wins and loses at the show but this year I can proudly announce that I came away with the ultimate accolade of Best in Show...
... the organisers of the show want to shake things up a bit and try and drag the whole 'Women's Institute' vibe into the twenty first century and so are adding new categories each year... this year the home-baking section had a new listing of 'A Summer Cake' to go along with the classics such as Victoria Sponge and Scones... it was a chance for some of the more creative amongst us to come down a little contemporary on the WI... of course I went in with all guns blazing with my explosion of summer fruits but to be honest this cake was very simple to make, it's more about the construction than anything else...
this cake contains three layers of Pimm's-soaked almond sponge sandwiched with raspberry and rose cream, wrapped with white chocolate cigarillos and topped with an abundance of fresh summer fruits... I believe it truly is the taste of summer... to keep it as fresh as possible I made this cake on Friday evening and dressed it early on Saturday morning before submitting it to the show, I rushed it a little but if you take your time over this it should be pretty easy to achieve... and as the very wonderful Eric Lanlard taught me, when it comes to toppings you should be wild and creative and messy, it looks more natural and more inviting... i've used some vintage print fabric as the ribbon as the only ribbons I had a home were a bit too Chrismassy.... i'm sorry I don't have any 'cut-into' photo's as the cake was auctioned at the end of the show and taken home by a lovely couple with big smiles on their face... you'll just have to use your imagination.
I used a 20cm wide and 8cm deep cake tin - greased and lined on the bottom and the sides to stop it from catching.
you will need roughly 30 white chocolate cigarillos which I purchased from amazon
for the almond sponge
4 large free-range eggs
150g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
250g butter - room temp
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 or 3 tablespoons of Pimm's or your favourite tipple
for the cream filling and coating
600ml fresh double or whipping cream
1 teaspoon rosewater
a selection of fresh seasonal fruits
pre-heat the oven to 170C
in a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add one egg and beat in followed by a third of the flour and almonds which you then beat in... continue this way until all the eggs and flour are used up remembering to push the sides of the bowl down between each beating to incorporate all the mixture... add the orange blossom water when you add the final egg.
pour the batter into your cake tin and bake for about 35 mins or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean... don't worry if it catches a little, no-one will see it and you can trim it down once it's cooled... remove from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely.
when you're ready to assemble whip the cream with the rosewater until it's quite thick
carefully slice the cake into thirds... I go around the cake with a sharp knife first to measure out the layers to be safe and then when you're ready use a serrated bread knife but dont cut all the way through i one go, turn the cake as you cut and go deeper each time until you're through
place the bottom layer onto your cake stand or plate and sprinkle on some Pimm's, then cover with cream. pour a little raspberry jam onto the cream and swirl it in with a knife... lay the next sponge layer on top and repeat the process... continue with your top layer and don't forget to cover the sides and top with cream and jam swirled in... now place the cake in the fridge for about 15 mins for the cream to harden a little, this will help stick the cigarillos
after 15 mins take the cake out of the fridge and carefully place the cigarillos around the edge... they should stay in place quite easily, then wrap with a ribbon... now you can place the fruit into the cake... be as wildly creative as you dare with fruit tumbling over the edges for a bit of luxuriant excess
as this cake was Best in Show i've decided to send this over to the brilliant Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and her fab we should cocoa challenge which celebrates it's 3rd year today... the theme for this month is a chocolate show-stopper cake... i think you'll agree I hit the nail on the head with this one!
eat and of course enjoy!