M-Bez, fashion guru, baking expert and… kidnapper, turns 80 today
Today is a very special day. It’s Mary Berry’s birthday – and not just any birthday, but her 80th! Yes the darling of fashion and baking has been on this earth for 80 years and there are some pretty big celebrations going on. Former Bake Off contestant, Ruth Clemens has baked Mary Berry an eight tiered birthday cake, with each layer paying tribute to her biggest cake trend per decade.
Mary Berry has released over 70 recipe books over her career, and has become a household name due to new found television stardom from The Great British Bake Off. An avid Mary Berry following, young and old, tune in to see what jacket the Queen of Baking is donning this summer and to hear her deliver some classic lines. “Some of them have got a good forking” was a particular favourite.
Mary has been through some tough times: she contracted polio when she was just 13 and had to spend three months in hospital away from her friends and family. But she has always been a dab hand at a Victoria sponge. Did you know that Mary’s first job was in our neighbouring town of Bath? Mary used to work for Bath electricity board showroom, and was tasked with showing residents how to use their electric ovens. How did she do that? By whipping up a Victoria sponge cake!
Her West Country shenanigans have a taken a darker turn more recently, as last week someone called Avon & Somerset police claiming they had been kidnapped by the baking queen.
One can only imagine the torture her victim must be facing. We imagine it looks something rather like the Victoria sponge cake below.
In honour of the great Queen of Baking, we suggest baking her classic Victoria sponge and enjoying it with a cup of tea. Happy Birthday Mary Berry.
4 free-range eggs
225g/8oz caster sugar, plus a little extra for dusting the finished cake
225g/8oz self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g/8oz baking spread, margarine or soft butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins
Whipped cream and strawberry jam (see below) to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking or silicone paper (to do this, draw around the base of the tin onto the paper and cut out).
2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and baking spread.
3. Mix everything together until well combined. The easiest way to do this is with an electric hand mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon. Put a damp cloth under your bowl when you’re mixing to stop it moving around. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency – it should fall off a spoon easily.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins: this doesn’t need to be exact, but you can weigh the filled tins if you want to check. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
5. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.
6. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for five minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
7. To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack.
8. To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a plate and spread it with plenty of jam. If you want to, you can spread over whipped cream too.
To really push the boat out, make your own homemade jam. It’s what Mary would do. Here she is whipping some up: