|St.Monica - John Nava|
I made a victoria sponge cake for a family party at the home of my brother today. It was the dessert which followed a delicious dinner to celebrate his new family home.
Rather fittingly, as it was the feast of St. Monica, I had to make the cake twice because the first time it went terribly wrong. This may have had something to do with the fact that when I tried it first (last night) I had been drinking wine! Nevertheless, determination is the virtue of the day, and one should not give up if you fail first time round.
St. Monica is mother to the particularly famous St. Augustine. Augustine did not always behave in a very saintly way. In fact, he had a rather wild and mis spent youth which included parties, some odd ideas about philosophy and religion, and a live-in concubine, by whom he had a son, Adeodatus. St Monica, a recovering alcoholic, prayed for her son's conversion every day. She followed her son around the place to ensure that he knew what she was up to. Eventually, after 16 years of his persistent mother's prayers, he was baptised in Rome 387AD, age 33. Within a few months Monica died in Ostia Antica, aged 56 - her mission complete. She was very far away from her home in Thagaste, North Africa (now Algeria), but she did not insist on being brought back: 'Bury this body anywhere. Don't concern yourselves about it. Nothing is far from God.'
Augustine, of course, went on to be ordained as a priest, and five years later became Bishop of Hippo. He thought a great deal, and wrote even more, and is remembered now as the founder of much of Western theological thought.
Now, that cake.
8oz caster sugar
8oz butter and some for greasing the tins
4 free range eggs
8oz self raising flour
icing sugar for dusting
raspberry or strawberry jam
fresh cream for whipping
In a large mixing bowl cream together the sugar and butter until it is soft, light and creamy. This will take more than 10 minutes with an electric whisk.
One at a time whisk in each of the eggs. Take your time, and mix in each egg really well. Try not to let the mixture curdle. Add a splash of vanilla essence.
Fold in the sieved flour carefully. Keep the air in the mixture and try not mix too much.
Spoon the mixture into the tins and level it. Place the tins into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
Allow the cakes to cool in the tin. Turn them out and cover one (the bottom) with your choice of jam. Whip up fresh cream and layer this on top of the jam. Place the other cake on top, and dust with sieved icing sugar. Yum.