Cooking With Claire is Back!

Claire, our Catering Manager, joined Fircroft just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all into lockdown.  Not to be defeated, while she was waiting to get her hands on the kitchen, she published some of her favourite recipes until she could start working at the college once the restrictions had lifted.  We called the series of recipes we published, Cooking With Claire.

Now, with the cost of living increasing dramatically and some people having to choose between eating and heating, we are going to be publishing one of Claire’s favourite budget-friendly recipes once a month.  Cooking from scratch can mean your food is just how you want it, it doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s a new skill!  Why not try out our first recipe for May, with a Coronation theme…..

While you are waiting for Claire’s next recipe in June, you can find lots of fantastic recipes online written by famous chefs or just people who love food and enjoy cooking.  Why not search the internet and get baking?

Claire says:

“Love the Royals or not, nobody can escape the fact the King’s Coronation is taking place on Saturday 6th May 2023.  Even if you are not doing anything to celebrate the Coronation – it is a Bank Holiday with plenty of time for making and eating good food.

In honour of the Coronation, I thought I’d share my favourite Victoria Sponge recipe.  This recipe by Delia Smith is so easy, even I can make it and I don’t really enjoy making cakes:”


  • Take a very large mixing bowl.
  • Measure the flour and baking powder into a sieve and sift into a bowl, holding the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down. Now all you do is simply add all the other sponge ingredients to the bowl and, provided the butter is really soft, you just go in with an electric hand whisk and whisk everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined mixture. This will take 1 minute but, if you don’t have an electric hand whisk, you can use a wooden spoon with a bit more effort.
  • What you now end up with is a mixture that drops easily off a spoon when you give it a tap on the side of the bowl. If it does seem a little too stiff, add 1-2 tablespoons of tap water and mix again. Now divide the mixture between the two tins, level it out and place on the centre shelf of the oven. It will take 30-35 minutes to cook – don’t open the oven door until 30 minutes have elapsed.
  • To test if they are cooked or not, touch the centre lightly with your little finger; if it leaves no impression and springs back, the sponge is cooked. Remove from the oven and after about 30 seconds loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round, then turn them out onto a wire cooling tray.
  • Now carefully peel back the lining by gently pulling it back. Lightly place the other cooling tray on top and just flip them both over so that the tops are facing upwards (this is to prevent them sticking to the cooling tray For the filling, combine the mascarpone and fromage frais in a bowl; a balloon whisk will amalgamate them quicker (You can use whipped double cream instead). Add the level tablespoon of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Now spread one tablespoon of jam over one of the sponge cakes, follow this with half the cream mixture then scatter the raspberries all over that. Now add the remaining cream mixture and drizzle it with the rest of the jam.
  • Place the second sponge cake on top. Press very lightly to sandwich everything together, then lightly dust the cake with icing sugar before serving.


For the sponge:

6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour

1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

3 large eggs

6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar

6 oz (175 g) butter, very soft at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

8 oz (225 g) raspberries or strawberries

3-4 tablespoons soft set raspberry jam or strawberry jam

1 x 250 g tub mascarpone + 1 x 200 ml tub fromage fraise or 500g double cream, whipped.

1 x 200 ml tub fromage frais

1 level tablespoon golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To serve:

a little icing sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).

Using a fan-assisted oven? Click here

Recipe taken from