Behind the scenes - the Making of The Catherine Sponge

photo of Catherine Sponge.jpg gf.jpgA few weeks ago I had a phone call, asking if I would be interested in testing a new recipe for the Catherine Sponge.  The Catherine Sponge by the way, is the Victoria Sponge of the 21st Century.  It features some of Kate Middleton's favourite foods, including marshmallows, passion fruit and Champagne.  The original recipe I was asked to test was based on two layers of traditional sponge, sandwiching a giant marshmallow, flavoured with passion fruit and Champagne.  The first test of the recipe yielded what can only be described as a creature in a Dr. Who episode.  (Think Adipose but with passion fruit seeds added for extra creepy measure).  I was still trying to wipe all the goop off the walls at 2 am.

I spoke to the PR agency the next morning and managed to get a bit more information on the project.  It seems that one of Kate's most memorable cakes is of a bunny rabbit cake covered in marshmallow frosting when she was 7 years old (or 5, I can't exactly remember the dates).  So with their approval we decided to start afresh.  I consulted some of my cookbooks and came up with a recipe for Seven Minute Frosting.  This is a very popular type of frosting used in the United States and it sometimes uses marshmallow for extra gooey effect.  Within a short space of time  I had  a good first attempt at the filling.  A soft billowy, cream like filling, flavoured with passion fruit and a hint of Champagne, was achieved in only 5 attempts! Passion Mallow filling.jpg gf.jpg

Then on to the cake itself.  A few conversations later it turns out that the direct descendent of The Duchess of Bedford, the original creator of the Victoria Sponge would be attending the photo shoot in a few days time.  Julia Speare-Cole is the great, great, great niece of The Duchess of Bedford and she lives in London where she is an Osteopath.  At her request, as her husband is very sensitive to wheat, Julia asked if the recipe could be made gluten free.  Well imagine my delight not only to be involved in the makeover, but also to have the opportunity of making this very special cake gluten free.

photo catherine sponge slice.jpg gf.jpgI adapted a traditional Victoria sponge recipe by incorporating ground almonds and using gluten free flour.   I then decided to add a slightly tangy passion fruit curd to balance out the richness of the cake and replace the traditional jam filling.  Sandwiched in between the two layers, sat a rather delicate and light creamy marshmallow filling.  A few of the neighbors were asked for their comments and judging by the speed with which the cake was devoured, it was decided that it was definately worthy of our soon to be Princess.

The filming of the cake took place the following day.  Brian Turner fronted the recipe along with Julia Speare-Cole.  I was in the background furiously baking cakes, whipping up fillings and getting all the ingredients together for the filming whilst shouting out instructions.  Brian was charming and gorgeous, even though he treated my carefully made sponges in a very cavalier way I had visions of the cakes lying in pieces all over the floor.  Luckily, this didn't happen and the sponges were robust enough. It turns out that Brian is not a cake man, and he says he never eats the stuff, but he did seem to like the Catherine Sponge a lot!  Perhaps he was just hungry.  Who knows?  To see the video follow the link   

You will find the recipe listed in the recipe section.

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