Canteen: Great British Food

November 2, 2010 , In: Books, Sweet Stuff , With: No Comments

I wanted to buy a cookbook on British food before moving to Montreal.  I did some research on the internet and flipped through a few cookbooks.  Canteen: Great British Food looked ideal.  It is an attractively designed book, has excellent reviews on Amazon, and has all the classics.  Food includes bubble and squeak, coronation chicken, pies, stews and plenty of classic puddings.  Plus I know Canteen, the restaurant the book was based on.  It’s always packed out and offers the food I was looking for.

I looked and I’ve made 8 of the recipes out of this book.  I think I can say with confidence that I like the food, but don’t love it.  British food, despite the mockery it gets, is very good honest hearty food.  When done well, it’s superb.  In my opinion, the recipes in this book offer good food, but in order to really make it superb you have to use your own judgement and tweak it a bit.

I still haven’t found a British cookbook I am in love with, although I do try and complete my cookbooks before moving on to another in the same genre so you probably won’t see another British cookbook review for a while.  I’ll leave you with my adaption of the recipe for Victoria Sponge, one of my favourite cakes and a very British one indeed!

Cookbook Verdict: If you are interested in traditional British food stick it on your gift wish list, but don’t go out of your way to buy it in general.

Victoria Sponge Cake
250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
250g plain white flour
2tsp baking powder
icing sugar for dusting

Jam – I used Bon Maman’s Raspberry jam which was lovely
150ml Double Cream, whipped

1. Get your oven ready to 170°C (around 350°F)
2. Beat the butter and caster sugar until fluffy.
3. Lightly whip the eggs in a separate bowl and then add to the mixture a little at a time and beat until just mixed. (I thought it actually looked a little curdled at this stage but it was fine).
4. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients – your flour and baking powder.  
5. Slowly add this to wet ingredients and fold in.  At this stage the batter is extremely thick for a cake batter.  I was a little surprised.
6. Split your batter into two sandwich tins with removable bottoms. You can either line them with parchment which I find a bit fiddly, or butter and flour the sides.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
8. Let the cakes completely cool before the next step.
9. One the top of one cake spread the jam.  You are then supposed to put the whipping cream on the bottom of the other.  However, I got a little scared that it would all come apart once it had to be flipped, so I just put the whipped cream right on top of the jam.  The result was probably not as pretty but it worked.
10. Dust with icing sugar.
This is a very simple basic cake, but an absolute delight to eat.  I think Queen Victoria was definitely on to something!


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Michelle Little

Writer & Photographer

Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy. Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.

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