“Through enjoyment we endure.”
~ Florence Ditlow
Looking for an easy, moist and yummy vanilla cake? My Nana Cody used to make this simple cake every school holidays when we were children. The only thing that ever varied was the flavour of icing she’d add to the top. It’s pretty much a foolproof recipe, which is one of the many reasons for loving this cake. Plus, it’s DELICIOUS!!!
When Nana married, my Gran (great grandmother!) passed her copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery and a notebook full of family recipes and household hints to Nana help her manage as a new wife. By the time I came along decades later both books had been very well used. The notebook was food-stained and stuffed with cuttings from magazines and recipes jotted down onto the backs of envelopes or notepaper from thoughtful friends. This Vanilla Cake from Nana’s notebook had an extra page beside it on which Gran Heppell had written several variations and suggestions for serving:
- Serve plain and fresh with hot tea for workers or a slice with first tea before breakfast.
- Good plain for an upset stomach. Crumb and add to milk for fussy children.
- Split in half. Spread jam over bottom of cake and then a generous serve of whipped cream. Replace lid and dust with icing sugar to serve.
- Fill with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream slightly sweetened and vanilla added. Dust top of cake.
- Fill with lemon curd and a layer of whipped cream. Dust top.
- For a marble cake split mixture into three bowls. Add pink colouring to one, and a teaspoon or two of cocoa to the second until a good colour is obtained. Add each colour in spoonfuls to greased cake pan and swirl together slightly with a knife blade.
- Make a buttercream and add to it the pulp of one or two passionfruit. Fill sponge with buttercream and ice with a glaze to which more passionfruit has been added.
I wrote those notes carefully into my own kitchen notebook and have made many many variations of this cake ever since. It is always a good and easy cake to make, which never fails. Yesterday we had a farm full of visitors and workers, so I whipped the cake up in the morning, ready for smoko. By dinner there were only crumbs left in the cake tin!
Here’s Nana’s Mrs Beeton’s which is now mine!
Vanilla Cake Ingredients:
- 2 cups of self raising flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125 grams of soft butter
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
- Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
- Place the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer in the order given above. Wet ingredients must go in last!
- Mix at low speed for one minute or until combined.
- Beat at high speed for three to four minutes until batter is pale and creamy and smooth.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.
- Cool cake completely before filling or icing as required.
NB: Failure to adhere to ingredient order and placing flour in mixing bowl last may result in a cloud of flour covering you and/or the kitchen. You have been warned! And yes, I totally forgot and look what happened.
To split the cake for filling use a large serrated knife and cut horizontally through the middle of the cake. Gently lift the top and place aside on a tea-towel or clean plate while adding filling to the bottom half of the cake.
Passionfruit Buttercream Ingredients:
- 125 grams softened butter
- 2 cups of icing sugar
- Pulp and juice of one to two passionfruit
- Beat butter until whipped and creamy
- Gradually add icing sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
- After the first 1/2 cup of icing sugar add a little passionfruit pulp. Beat well and then continue adding sugar, alternating with passionfruit. When the icing is very thick and creamy spoon onto the bottom layer of cake and replace top half of cake.
Passionfruit Glaze Icing Ingredients:
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- the juice and pulp of one to two passionfruit
- To make the icing (frosting) sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the softened butter and the pulp of one passionfruit. Beat well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. If mixture is too stiff add extra passionfruit until the correct consistency is reached.
- Spread onto the top of the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.
Serve with a nice cup of tea, in the company of friends.
Or eat it all yourself. It’s up to you, really! 😀
Much love, Nicole xx
PS – Have you noticed how much Rufous seems to end up in all my food shots? He’s so like our old dog Bert it’s uncanny!