An Orange-filled Victoria Sponge

I've always wanted to make what I'd like to think of as the anti-Black Forest cake, a complete opposite of everything thats chocolatey and rich about it. Most people would call it the Victoria sponge.

Dad has always had an affinity for refreshing, citrus-y flavours so for his birthday, I thought that the Victoria sponge would be a good way to go and of course, I couldn't resist experimenting a little by replacing the classic cream and strawberry jam filling with an orange filling to cater to the birthday boy's tastebuds.

For the cake, I very quickly found simple recipe from the BBC GoodFood website. The filling, however, was a bit more of a puzzle - I couldn't decide if I wanted an orange jam of sorts, or something creamier. I knew for sure, though, that I wanted something that didn't involve more eggs and I wanted to stay away from curds off any sort. In the end, it was a colleague's suggestion for a jelly filling that sparked the idea of an orange pudding filling. 

BBC Goodfood's Granny's Victoria Sponge Recipe

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour 

Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5, grease and flour 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.
Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat well to a creamy consistency. Slowly beat in the eggs, one by one, then fold in the flour and mix well. 
Divide the mix between the cake tins, place into the oven and bake for about 20 mins until risen and golden brown. The cakes should spring back when gently pushed in the middle. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 mins in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.
For the filling:
Adapted from Rosemary's Homemade Vanilla Pudding Recipe 

2 cups milk
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
Juice and rind (chopped finely) of one orange

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until bubbles form at edges.
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/5th of a cup of cold water
Add orange juice and rind into the milk before adding the sugar, salt, and cornstarch mixture, a little at a time. 
Stir constantly and until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Do not boil.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter.
Chill before using it to assemble the cake.

To assemble the cake, spread a generous amount of orange pudding on the bottom layer before topping the pudding up with orange slices (I used some mandarins I had left over from Chinese New Year). Finish off by putting the top layer in place. 

I didn't have a baking tin of the appropriate size, hence the thinner layers. The filling added the right amount of height though in retrospect, was just the filling I had in mind. 

There we go: the antidote the the Black Forest cake. One more to strike of my list of silly ideas.

Journal by Plan B, Publika

Journal by Plan B literally has that old school feel to it with its shelves of typewriters and chemistry lab beakers. We thought we'd give it a go for a lazy Sunday brunch and even with the rest of Publika still quiet and rather empty, a line had formed at the entrance of Journal. After a short wait, we settled down by the multiple television screens showing an old P. Ramlee movie and got going on the daunting task of deciding what to eat.

The brother was torn between the prime beef pie and the steak sandwich and after much fickle-mindedness, he finally settled on the sandwich, something he gobbled up rather quickly and didn't share.

The breakfast club sandwich - a nice mix of the classic breakfast items and delicious extras like the avocado feta mash. Should come with a warning : For big appetites.

Chicken pie - hearty and flavourful, with well made pastry. 

I have fond memories of a little place near the Holborn underground station that not only gives student discounts but also makes an amazing Moroccan-inspired lamb sandwich. I've had a soft spot for Middle-eastern inspired lamb sandwiches ever since, so when I spot a sandwich up of Moroccan spiced lamb, tzatziki and halloumi, it's a simple choice. While the Moroccan lamb sandwich at Journal isn't quite the juicy, hearty mess of a sandwich that the one in Holborn is, it's still pretty good. 

For dessert, a serving of banoffee pie to share (which really means a forkful each for the parents and I, and the rest for the growing child that's my brother). A pleasant (read: not overly sweet) end to the meal. 

Sandwiches and burgers are served with a portion of salad and a generous helping of homemade chips. I'm generally not a fan of chips but the four root vegetable chips have become my favourite bit of Journal. It's a cozy place, this one, great for those days where you just feel like taking your time.

Holiday Foodsteps: The Little Gems of Ipoh and Penang

 As always, one finds little things that stand-out along the way - they may not be full-blown meals but these little gems command the spotlight (and are often the things we remember most). These are some of my favourite spotlight-stealers:

Sin Eng Heong Kaya Puff
No. 64, Jln Mustapha Al-Bakri,
Jln Clare,30300,Ipoh Perak.
05 2439 659, 012 453 4596 (Elaine)

Orders for the kaya puffs were being taken even before we got to Ipoh - I suppose that should have been a bright, flashing indicator of how good the puffs are. Alas, my family decided to skip on the orders, deciding that we'd be fine without a taste of these much-talked-about kaya puffs. As the packets of warm kaya puffs, fresh from the oven, made their way onto the bus after we stopped by the bakery to collect them, we relented and tucked into some.  The pastry that gives into the delightfully rich kaya concoction is a masterpiece - so light, flaky and crumbly that it surprised me. Devine. Simply devine.

Muar Chee
Gurney Drive Hawker Area

This what I've come to know affectionately as the inside-out muar chee. In possibly every other part of Malaysia, muar chee comes in the form of glutinous rice balls with sweet filling (peanut or otherwise), rolled in flour. They've always been a favourite of mine and I have fond memories of tucking into muar chee balls and getting the flour all over my mouth and fingers. When I first stumbled upon this version of one of my favourite snacks, I was intrigued - and how can one not be as you stand in front of the stall watching the lady expertly cut the glutinous rice strips with a blade while simultaneously coating the pieces with what would usually be the peanut filling. Lets just say I fell in love at first bite.

Swatow Lane Ice Kacang 
New World Park 
Swatow Lane off Burma Road

When it comes to hawker food, competition is tough in Penang and while New World Park offers the comfort of a clean, modern setting for hawker food, the food does disappoint somewhat. It is (more than) worth a visit, though, if you're on the hunt for ice kacang. This is perhaps my favourite version of the iconic Malaysian dessert - a treasure trove of the usual suspects (sweetcorn, redbean, jelly, syrup, peanuts), fresh fruits, attap seeds and the most incredible ice cream (one gets a choice of ice cream flavours - durian really stood out for me).