Summer is, I hope, upon us and the season of lazy summer days and barbecues should be in full swing.

One of my favourite things to do when I get a bit of time out in the summer is to relax in a decent coffee shop.

Dorchester is becoming a town with a great cafe culture with new cafe opening every month it seems.

Do support your independent cafes please, in Dorchester town my favourites are the fantastic Number 35 coffee shop where Toby delivers the best coffee within 50 miles and Finca a close second, run by Dom and his fun team.

I have an interest in Bramble cafe in Poundbury but we do good coffee and tea and a focus on great, value for money lunches (as well as evening openings on a Friday and Saturday).

Independent cafes, and restaurants, employ locally and spend their income with local suppliers, they also, in my biased opinion, have better selections of food and drinks and are much more fun places to spend time in so please do give us a try.

We've been open at Bramble Cafe for a few months now and I reckon my cake making is getting pretty good, not through any huge talent but by making several cakes a day, practice, usually, makes perfect.

A good cake needs to get the balance of airiness, soft to eat and flavour. The most common mistake is to over or under cook the cake, don't be afraid to check your cake while it is cooking and with practice you'll learn what time and temperature setting works well in your kitchen.

I'm going to share my cake method for a great general purpose sponge, by adding a lovely orange buttercream, we can make a take on a Victoria sponge, although the traditional filling is jam and whipped cream.

Victoria Sponge (serves 8)

  • 5 Eggs
  • Self raising flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla essence

For the Buttercream

  • 80g softened unsalted butter
  • 170g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp orange essence
  • Icing sugar to dust

In a bowl on a set of scales, crack the eggs in and check the weight, it should be between 250-280g. Add the same weight as the eggs of each of the flour, oil and caster sugar to the bowl then the vanilla. Whisk till combined into a smooth paste.

Divide the mixture equally between two buttered 9” cake tins. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out cleanly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack, use a tea towel over the rack to minimise the lines from the rack cutting into the cake. When cool, slice the domed top off one of the sponges, so that it will fit flat together with the other.

To make the buttercream; Mix the butter and icing sugar together till light in colour, add the milk and orange essence and mix until the mixture is light and smooth.

To finish smooth the buttercream on top of the levelled sponge then place the other sponge on top, finish with a generous dusting of icing sugar.

Serve immediately