Mother's Day has taken on a more poignant meaning for me since my own mum died two years ago - but this year feels particularly special.
For Mother's Day falls on March 10 – two days before my own mum's birthday – and so I want to make it a day to remember, not just for her (she probably doesn't care too much where she is), but for her memory – and for my hard-working wife, who is mum to our three children.
Just before my mother died, I was made redundant after 25 years in employment. Unable to find another job, my wife and I made the decision to swap roles. She gave up her life as a full-time mum and went back to an office job.
Not only did she support us financially, but she was also my emotional rock during a very dark time.
Life goes on, of course, but it's for all of these reasons that Mother's Day is always a special date on the calendar.
Fortunately, one of the consequences of becoming a stay-at-home-dad has been having the time to develop my passion for cooking. I cook twice a day – first for the kids, who are aged 11, eight and five – and then for my wife when she gets home from work.
And when I'm not on house dad duty, I relax by watching cookery programmes (as one does!).
It was while watching the Great British Bake-Off that I had the inspiration for what I decided me and the kids could make for their mum for Mother's Day – but with the added twist of it being a tribute to my own mother.
By pure coincidence, Mary Berry was born in the same year as my mum – and in the same month (Mary will be 78 on March 24).
It felt like fate that I should bake the great home-baking pioneer's classic Strawberry Victoria Sandwich Cake – with a little help from my kids, of course.
Cuts into 8 slices
Butter for greasing
90g caster sugar
90g self-raising flour
300ml whipping cream, whipped until thick
125g strawberries, sliced
1 passion fruit, halved
Strawberries, halved, to decorate
You will need 2 x 18 cm sandwich cake tins
1. Lightly butter the cake tins, line the bottoms with baking parchment, then butter the parchment.
2. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl. Whisk with an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
3. Sift in half of the flour and fold in gently. Repeat with the remaining flour.
4. Divide the mixture between the tins. Tilt to spread the mixture evenly.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C (170C fan, Gas 5) for 20–25 mins until well risen, golden, and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tins.
6. Turn out on to a wire rack, peel off the lining paper, and leave to cool.
7. Spread half of the whipped cream over one of the sponges. Top with the sliced strawberries and passion fruit pulp. Put the other sponge on top and press down gently.
8. Spread the remaining cream on top of the cake, smoothing it neatly with a palette knife. Decorate with strawberry halves.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. Make sure hubby and kids see this page so they can treat you!
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