Like an army of benign invaders, the UK food scene is rapidly being taken over by Jamie Oliver protégées. Latest amongst the Oliver cohorts is Georgina Hayden, a member of his food team who works as a cook, food writer and stylist. This, her first book (‘A new modern classic – a simply stunning cookbook’, one J Oliver notes on the cover) celebrates ‘time spent in the kitchen’, and advocates using food and cooking as a way to deal with the often traumatic events of daily life. The book is divided into chapters entitled ‘Bowl Food’, ‘Low, slow and hearty’, ‘Bake yourself better’ and the over-riding vibe is one of warmth, comfort and careful healing – recipes (including Bombay Omelette, a roast miso aubergine and harissa butter chicken and cracked wheat) to ‘restore and revive’ as Hayden puts it. Celebrate a golden summer and the start of a new Bake-Off series with Hayden’s gloriously reviving British Summertime Stack
British summertime stack
150g butter (plus extra for greasing)
490g caster sugar
5 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2–3 tablespoons milk
125ml Pimm’s (plus extra for brushing)
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
200g fat-free Greek yoghurt
icing sugar, to serve
fresh mint leaves or flowers, for
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Grease two 20cm round cake tins and line with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and 150g of sugar in a free-standing mixer until pale. Separate the eggs, and add the yolks to the mixer (keeping the whites to one side for later). Finely grate in the zest of the orange and lemon and beat. Fold in the flour and baking powder, followed by enough milk to give you a smooth, creamy batter. Evenly divide the batter between the tins and spread out. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look enough – it will be, I promise.
Pop the tins into the oven and bake the cakes for 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/gas 2.
In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly pour in 250g of caster sugar. Keep whisking for around 6 minutes, until the whites are glossy and stiff. Cut two pieces of greaseproof paper, big enough to line two baking sheets, and draw around the cake tins with a pen. Turn the sheets over and lay them on the baking sheets, sticking them down in the corners with a little meringue. Divide the meringue between the two circles (you should be able to see the outline faintly through the paper) and spread it out so it is just within the circles – the meringue will spread a little as it cooks. Smooth the top of one of the meringue discs and peak the other with the back of a spoon to give you a pointy texture – this will be the top. Bake for around 70 minutes, until cooked through but not too dry. Leave to cool on the baking sheets.
While the meringues are cooling, make the fruit filling. Hull and chop 500g of the strawberries and place in a small pan with the Pimm’s and the remaining 90g of sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat a little and leave to bubble away for 8–10 minutes until you have a sticky strawberry Pimm’s compote. Leave to cool. Hull, quarter and slice the remaining 200g strawberries.
When you are ready to layer your cakes, whisk the cream and vanilla seeds until soft peaks form, scrape in the vanilla seeds, and fold in the yoghurt. Place one of the sponges on a board or cake stand and brush with a spoonful of Pimm’s. Drizzle over half the strawberry compote and top with the un-peaked meringue. Spoon over most of the vanilla cream and most of the sliced strawberries. Top with the second sponge, brush with another spoonful of Pimm’s and most of the remaining compote, and add the final peaked meringue layer. Top with a few dollops of the cream mixture, a drizzle of strawberry compote and the remaining sliced strawberries. Sieve over a little icing sugar and decorate with mint leaves and edible flowers, if you like.
Stirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden is published by Square Peg £20 www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk