Well, we've almost made it. Here we are, contemplating the Closing Ceremonies in a few hours when the curtain will come down on an absolutely spectacular Olympics, and very probably the last one in which I shall take more than a passing interest, unless one of my children or grandchildren go in for sports in an Olympic way. The former have missed the mark in terms of age. There is no latter and with no sport genes in this family, the chances are about as great as me taking gold in show jumping. One member of the family made it onto the Olympic stage for the Opening Ceremonies and I couldn't have been prouder but I suspect that was the beginning and end of it.
That said, I've felt more patriotic pride in the last two weeks than I've felt in my entire life. And it's pride for a country where my family roots on both sides are firmly anchored, and yet one in which I came to live in the fourth decade of my life. A number of people have asked me if my loyalties have been divided between the Union Flag and the Maple Leaf. My answer is a resounding 'no'. I live here now, my reference points are all British and have been for years and while I retain a huge affection for and pride in what was 'my home and native land' for many years, my loyalty and allegiance go to the red, white and blue which we've all watched fluttering in the thousands in the stands or adorning the shoulders of the 40-odd British athletes who've done their country proud along with the many others who've placed in the rankings and the scores who've worked their socks off in training for years and got this far but simply not been able to put themselves on the board. They are the undecorated heroes of the Games and we should be very proud of all who've given it their best shot, even if they go home with memories not medals. Well done, Team GB!!
What better way to mark the finale of a splendid season of Jubilee and Games than with a quintessentially English tradition: Victoria Sponge. Oh, I know, most of you can make these while doing the crossword and texting your friends. Victoria sponge is to Great Britain what pancakes and maple syrup are to Canadians and anyone who holds a British passport should, I feel, master this national teatime treat.
So now I have to kneel and confess that I've never made a true sponge. I've made pound cake which is similar and also very English, a wonderful American chocolate cake called 'Wacky Cake' which I might add to this blog in a future post simply for the fun of making it and dozens of spice, lemon, orange and assorted other types of cake. But not sponge. And embarrassingly, it's the easiest of the lot and as it's in the oven now, I'll refrain from adding the 'never fail' tag, for that will surely blight my first attempt. But like boiling an egg or making toast, it would be a pretty poor cook who couldn't get this one right. With only 5 ingredients it's a no-brainer.
I don't expect a single one of you to make this for I'm sure the English cooks among you all have a tried and true sponge recipe but if you ever fancy a change, then this one gets my vote for an alternative. Like many of my favourite recipes, this comes from the kitchen of the talented Lyn who is so generous with all her culinary knowledge and any recipe which she's found and had success in producing.
Weigh three eggs. Place the same weight each of margarine and caster sugar in a bowl and combine well. Add the eggs and a few drops of vanilla. Finally beat in the same weight of self rising flour and beat for a couple of minutes so that the batter is light. It's not called sponge for nothing. Voilà. Turn into two greased and floured sponge tins and bake at 160º C for about 30 minutes or until done.
Cool on a rack before turning out of the tins. A true Victoria should have red jam methinks, but you can personalise in any way you choose and fill with fresh fruit, or any curd or jam and for special occasions top with whipped cream.
Start with a Pimms and then the main course could be bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, toad-in-the-hole or bubble and squeak. Nice cuppa at the end of the meal and you will be singing Rule Britannia before bed time.