I apologise in advance,this is going to be a long post today as it incorporates my whole busy weekend and which I want to share with those who like baking and those who enjoy running!
My weekend probably started on the Friday evening as I baked a traditional Victorian Sponge cake by way of a house warming gift for a friend of mine who had bought their first house.
So for the bakers among my readers see below the ingredients and methodology for baking a Victoria Sponge:
For the sponge mixture you will need:
- 225g butter (chopped into quarters to help with the mixing)
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Before you do any mixing once again prepare your baking area,making sure all surfaces are clean and dry. Also preheat your oven (depending on the kind of oven you have rough temperatures are 180 degrees celcius,or 350 degrees Fahrenheit,Gas mark 4). Grease and line two 21cm tins and place to one side. My preferred method is to ensure all ingredients are weighted and placed in small bowls ready to simply add to my main mixing bowl as below:
- First action is to cream together your butter and sugar until the mix is nice and light and fluffy
- Next add your eggs one at a time,ensure you scrape the side of the bowl down each time so you are getting all the mix together. My advice is to break the egg into a small bowl before putting in the main mix. This ensures you can get out any egg shell which may break into the liquid (nothing more annoying than trying to scrape out a bit of egg shell of your butter/sugar mix!) and also will ensure you can see the egg has not gone off even if it’s still within date. A bad egg straight into your mix means you’d have to start again from scratch!)
- Once your eggs have all been mixed in beat in the flour (pre sifted to stop big lumps of flour getting into your mixture and potentially ending up with a flour lump in your cake!) and baking powder. I prefer to add a quarter of the flour at a time and beat in rather than the whole lot at once. This ensures you have thoroughly mixed all the dry ingredients properly.
- Finally add in the vanilla extract,mix well and spoon the mixture into your two tins. You can roughly divide your mix in half in the bowl or simply try and add a spoon at a time into each tin so you have roughly equal minute in each tin. Every baker will have their own method! Place the tins in your oven and bake for 15-20minutes until a cocktail stick (or kebab skewer which I use!) comes out clean. Once they have baked leave to cool in the tin for roughly 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. If you try and remove too soon the cake because it is so hot may break apart.
In the meantime while your cake is baking you will need to make the cream filling, for this you will need:
- 500ml double cream
- 50g icing sugar which has been sifted
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- This is nice and easy,simply whisk the double cream until ribbons start to form (basically the liquid isn’t dripping off your whisk)
- Then slowly add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and whisk some more until the cream is quite thick. Don’t whisk till the cream is heavy to stir though as it has become too thick! And don’t whisk too vigorously or you’ll end up with a face covered in icing sugar!). Put the cream in the fridge to keep cool.
Once the cakes have cooled down, Inevitably you will sometimes end up with one sponge cake comes out better than the other. Save this one for the top (looks neater 😜). If you need to neaten the bottom sponge (I.e. If it is slightly uneven) use a very sharp knife with a serrated blade (bread knife works well) and very carefully take some of the sponge off so it is level. Fingers crossed you shouldn’t need to do this! Place the bottom sponge on a plate or cake stand and spread 200g of good quality strawberry jam (most recommendations have smooth jam,I prefer the jam with strawberry bits in for truly filling cake!) across the sponge. Then carefully add your pre prepared cream on top of this
Once completed add the second sponge on top and liberally cover with icing sugar,and if you’re like me you’ll also liberally cover your kitchen and yourself in a nice coating of sugar! But your cake should end up like the one below
Happy baking and happy eating!
Right,to carry on with my long long post today, this cake was carefully placed in a cake tin to be ferried across to my friends place to be consumed as soon as possible! We had decided to make Saturday a DVD and junk food day just to relax from our perspective stressful week! And as always we had chosen the day to mainly watch horror movies which we both love! Although having said that the movies we watched weren’t up to the usual scratch of being really scary,or maybe because we were watching them in the day time we felt more secure?? Still don’t know why I watch these movies anyway,something strange about trying to scare yourself silly!! Between us though we demolished two big bags of popcorn and a Chinese takeaway and a huge slice of cake each! No wonder I felt like I was having a food baby once I got home!
For those that have been reading some earlier posts or not,you may or may not know I am running a 100mile race in April next year. So all of Saturday’s activity was perfect training material and food(!)
Come the Sunday then I decided,even though I woke up with a migraine that I must get out running! Living in Derbyshire means I have the advantage in that I don’t have to drive for very long until I am in the stunning Peak District, and after plotting a route on my ViewRanger app I set off on my merry way.
Having done a walk in the area last year and with it being early afternoon, I had decided to set my starting point in Ilam about 4 miles from Ashbourne. The route takes you past the old houses which look more like Swiss chalet houses than anything belonging in England! I then proceeded to run up to the old gardens of Ilam’s Hall which is now a youth hostel. But looking across the garden at the views you can well imagine the lord of the manor enjoying his view with a whisky in hand!
After stopping briefly to take the above picture I carried on past the adjacent river and onto the fields and fell proper. I should perhaps clarify here that my race next year is a trail race rather than a road,therefore I’m trying to get as much off road running done as possible to get me used to it. However I do prefer off road running now,simply because of the amazing views you come across, rather than describe all of my route,I will simply put some pictures below:
All in all it was a fantastic run,the only problem being towards the end my knees started seizing up from all the steep downhill running where I was jarring them badly. This is something I need to practise at if I’m to become a more successful trail/fell runner. The problem I have is my brain is still wired into fear of losing control if I go down too fast. I need to lose my inhabitions slightly so that my running becomes more natural rather than stilted otherwise I will encounter cramping every time I do run on steep hills. It meant towards the end of 14 miles I were having to stop regular and stretch out my joints in order not to cramp up completely. It didn’t help that being Autumn the weather had cooled down significantly and being hot and sweaty my body was rapidly cooling down before I had stretched properly as I do at the end of every long run. But overall it was a good training run and I’m glad I went for it instead of staying in bed as I felt like doing when I woke up with a migraine! Being outside in the lovely fresh air and sunshine was so uplifting. For next week I’m going to try and increase the distance to 18miles as I gradually increase my overall stamina training. I have to admit this is getting harder to do with the weather slowly getting colder each day!
How do you cope with winter running? Do you have any motivational tips? At the moment I just promise myself a nice long hot bath!
Happy trails and happy running!