Vanilla, Strawberry & Rose Victoria Sponge Cake
for Lavender and Lovage’s 1st Year Blog Birthday!
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday Lavender and Lovage, Happy Birthday to me! Yes, it’s hard to believe, but the 28th June 2012 is my FIRST year’s birthday as a Blog and a food Blogger……it was a year ago today that I first put fingers to keyboard and started what has become an integral part of my life. It all started with a lazy meal on the terrace – we were at our home in France and had two friends staying from Scotland……after a fine meal and a few glasses of even finer wine, I started to telling my friend how frustrated I was that I no longer had a job as a food writer with a national magazine, Country Kitchen, as it had very sadly closed due to the recession. I got work as a free-lance writer here and there, but not much, so she suggested I start a food blog, by way of directing my culinary creativity as well as keeping up with my photography. It seemed a little weird to be writing to a then unknown audience, but I thought about it and then decided on a name, then took the plunge and set up Lavender and Lovage on Blogger, which was an easy platform to start with.
My first post was all about our house in France, and my first recipe was a FISH recipe, which will not surprise those who know me well! And here is it is: Five Minute Pan-Fried Fish in a Beurre Noisette sauce with Capers.
I had NO comments of course, in fact looking back at my posts, I had NO comments for 2 weeks, so my friends and family took pity on me and left a few! It continued to be hard, no comments and every day I would post a recipe and notes about what I had been up too…….but, I carried on. And then all of a sudden it happened, I started to follow other blogs, and left comments on their posts, and it all took off…….I remember my pleasure one day when I received no less than 27 comments, more than I get today sometimes, all left on my Coffee Walnut Cake recipe and post – I had finally arrived in Food Blogger-Land it appeared!
I then discovered “Blog Challenges”, the same ones I STILL participate in today, and I will name the first ones I participated in, as they opened up my world, in a food blogging sense; they were: We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette, Random Recipes hosted by Dom and Simple and in Season hosted by Ren……it was a GREAT way to discover other blogs and meet new people, by this stage my daily traffic had started to increase and I also started to chat with my new friends on Twitter…….I discovered a vibrant community of like-minded people – they were friendly, supportive and encouraging…….they were, and STILL are a very important part of why I write my blog – as well as for my own personal and creative satisfaction of course. I could go on and list every new challenge and event that I attended during my first few months, but this IS a party, so I will move on……..but before I DO move on and talk about the future, I would like to share one of my FAVOURITE recipes, one of the first recipes that I developed for a blog challenge, my little Chocolate Rose Fairy Cakes……
There have been downs too…..in November of last year, my blog was hacked and they DELETED every single post and left me bereft and without a blog at all……but again, some kind person I knew on-line helped me, and within 48 hours my blog was up and running again, with all my backed up files posted just as before….it was a hard lesson to learn, but thank goodness I backed all my posts up…..I then decided in November 2011 to set up my own blog challenge, I LOVE baking – savoury AND sweet, so I decided to host a monthly challenge, Tea Time Treats, as there was NOTHING similar at the time. However, I realised it was a TALL order to host it every month, so, I asked one of my lovely new blogger friends to help me out, another baker, and as you all know it was Kate from What Kate Baked…..she and I co-host Tea Time Treats every month and we BOTH love it and were thrilled to see how popular it was right from the start, a big shout out and thanks to you Kate!
So, to zoom right up to the present day, what are my aspirations for the future? Well, I shall continue to write a daily post, develop new and exciting recipes, take photos and work with some lovely brands that I am connected with…….Fish is the Dish, Scotty Brand and Morphy Richards……I will also continue to co-host Tea Time Treats as well as my other blog challenge, Herbs on Saturday.
I hope to work for other brands in the future too, as well as continue to participate in product reviews and PR/Press and Open Days. I am also going to start shooting videos for my blog……as well as offer some exciting opportunities with eBooks and menu planning. I am also involved in some pretty exciting projects that I can’t reveal just yet, but do watch this space……in short, I am continuing with my journey – I am carrying on as before, but adding destinations to my itinerary. So where’s the cake I hear you cry, it’s here, just a few more words to be said before I offer you ALL a slice…….I want to say a HUGE thanks to my FAMILY, for your love and support and for being the most loyal of audiences, and for putting up with all the cold meals whilst I take photographs; also a big thanks to all of my blogger friends – I was going to name you all, but it would have taken forever, you KNOW who you are, and many thanks for your support and friendship! And, last but NOT least, a BIG thank you to YOU – that’s all of you who visit every day….. without you, there would be no point carrying on! Now, it’s CAKE time! Karen.
My Blog Birthday Cake is BIG, it’s BLOUSY and yes, I know, it’s VERY pink! But, it’s MY party and I’ll bake what I want to! Actually, it should have been an elegant shade of pale pink, but I was distracted when I was adding a DROP (drops in the end) of food colouring to the rose-water icing…….as you do! However, this is a STUNNING cake - traditional Victoria Sponge Cake with a LARGE slug of natural vanilla extract, sandwiched together with home-made strawberry jam and topped with an exotic rose-water icing……with tiny roses and lavender as decorations…… delicious and perfect for any birthday party.
I am sharing my classic Victoria Sandwich recipe here, which is the recipe I used to make the cake as posted here; then all you have to do to make the birthday cake, is to add 2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract to the basic cake mixture, and then when it’s baked, sandwich the cake together with strawberry jam OR fresh strawberries and cream. Then make a simple water icing with 75g to 100g of icing sugar, make a thin icing by adding rose-water and just a DROP of pink food colouring, before decorating with crystallised rose petals or fresh roses and lavender.
I also used some FABULOUS Dr Oetker Soft Shimmer Pearls in Pinks and White and they really added a magical element to this cake! Dr Oetker’s amazing and equally magical Cake Release Spray was used when baking this cake and I did not need ANY baking/parchment paper in my cake tins, and the cakes slid out with ease.
LOOK out for a FABULOUS Dr Oetker Blog Birthday Baking Giveaway Here:
Disclaimer: I was sent some free baking and cake decorating products by Dr Oetker to try and review, and I was not asked to write a review or promote them on my blog; I have chosen to advertise their products as I believe them to be excellent for baking and cake decorating. All opinions are my own. Karen S Burns-Booth