If there's one thing my Mother likes it's butter. Her birthday presents inevitably consist of shortbread something in many a flavour and I think it's safe to say that she has sampled shortbread and butter from around the world. So when I came across a recipe for Butter Cake the first person I thought of was her. Last Christmas I baked her a buttery Gateau Breton (something between a shortbread and a cake) and she was enraptured by it so naturally a rich and very buttery cake was ideal for this year. The 1-2-3-4 Cake was named as it required 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs so if you get lost on a desert island without your recipe book and happen to have the ingredients for this cake, it's an easy way to remember it.
I fancied it up by splitting it and slathering it with jam and stiff whipped cream. It doesn't need it at all, just a cup of tea will accompany this rich buttery cake, but for occasions I like to add little things such as sugar roses or filling. I would have done icing (pale pink of course) but the top cracked and it doesn't look particularly only accentuating the crack, like face powder does in a crease of the skin.
Beerenberg's PR lovelies sent me some Strawberry Jam and Tomato Sauce announcing their new "Provenance Pathway" where by putting in the barcode into the Beerenberg website, you can find out where the ingredients were grown, the date the product was made and the name of the cook. A great idea for those who are curious to know where their food is produced and I can't help thinking that there would also be a pride issue to produce the best possible product for the cook as their name is known.
Of course I couldn't resist plugging in the last 6 digits of the barcode, then the best before date and within a matter of seconds, I received the pictures of the men that made the jam and the location from a google earth map zeroing down to the actual building. I could also see the food product specs and the history of the Beerenberg farm in South Australia. I only wish I was close enough to visit the farm and pick my own strawberries.
1-2-3-4 Butter Cake
1 cup butter
2 cups of caster/granulated sugar
3 cups of flour
4 eggs beaten lightly
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
300ml/10fl oz whipping cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Step 1 - Position rack on lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 180C/350F. Line a springform cake tin with baking parchment on the base and sides.
Step 2 - In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.
Step 3 - With an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until very pale. Then slowly add the eggs ensuring that it is combined thoroughly. If it starts to appear curdled, add a teaspoon or two of the sifted flour mixture.
Step 4 - Add vanilla to the milk. Fold flour then the milk in 3 lots in using broad strokes ensuring that it is well combined. Pour the batter into the tin and bake on 180C/350F for 10 minutes on the lowest rack. Then turn the heat down to 160C and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes using a cake tester or a tooth pick to test for doneness. If it comes out clean then the cake is done.
Step 5 - When cake is completely cool, slice in half horizontally with a sharp knife (I've heard dental floss can also work but I've never tried this). Whip 300ml/10 fl ozs of cream until soft then add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and then whip until stiff.
Step 6 - Spread jam on base and then spread cream evenly on top of the jam. Sandwich together lightly and add sugar flower if you please or have one handy. When cutting, use a very sharp knife to avoid squishing the cream out of the sides.