Apparently Virginia didn’t have a clue about preparing food but she and Leonard were ‘foodies’, enjoyed sweet things and were often guests at Charleston for afternoon tea in the garden. There would be gossip and laughter, a gentle stroll round the garden, a perfect cup of tea and a second slice of cake.
I have chosen a recipe from Jans Ondaatje Rolls’ The Bloomsbury Cookbook that would have been baked for the Woolf household by the family cook.
The hardest part was working in 1lbs and ounces and what on Earth is 1/4 cup? I had to get on the internet to learn that it is 60ml. 60ml of brandy! That is more than a double pub measure. Then I had to figure out if there was a difference between ounces and fluid ounces as the measurement for the honey said ‘ounces’ and with it being a liquid I thought it should say ‘fluid ounces’. I was keen to make this cake as I have never put as much brandy in a cake before (not even in a Christmas cake). Also, it contains cloves and I was intrigued by the flavours. In the photograph. The darker liquid is the brandy. The paler liquid is the honey … and look at all that butter!
The cake went well, and the kitchen survived without needing to be redecorated or anything.
It was easy enough to make. The only thing was when I added the brandy to the hot melted honey and butter it started to rise like boiling milk does and I thought it was going to overflow. But it didn’t.
I doubt whether Virginia’s cook would have used Lakeland’s fluted tin liners but I can live with that. Not sure about electric hand mixers either.
Anyway, the cake came out very well. I have just googled why the cake might have cracked on the top and Mary Berry says that if the cake is too near the top of the oven, or if the oven is too hot, the crust forms too soon, the cake continues to rise and the top therefore splits. A science lesson for me.
Ta Dah! This cake is HUGE! It says that it serves eight but that would include that second slice, surely?
Chris, sorry about the Soberano x