Two treats for the price of one: a classic Scottish dessert meets a Victoria sponge.
Cranachan is a classic Scottish dessert, traditionally made with crowdie, which is a crumbly Scottish cheese, plus oats, whisky and raspberries. You could think of it as a kind of Highland Eton mess, with oats in place of the meringue.
I hope the Scots will forgive me, but I’ve made a few changes here. For obvious reasons I’ve left out the whisky, replacing it with vanilla, and substituted the crowdie with double cream, because, let’s be honest, when did you last see crowdie in your local supermarket if you don’t happen to live in Scotland? The biggest alteration, though, is that I’ve sandwiched my cranachan between a traditional Victoria sponge.
It may sound strange, taking a rich, creamy pudding and using it to fill a cake, but weirdly I find it actually makes the cranachan taste lighter – I guess because you end up eating less cream per mouthful. And if you think about it, apart from the addition of oats, it’s a pretty standard filling for a Victoria sandwich.
It couldn’t be quicker or easier to make. You start with a classic Victoria sponge recipe, made here using the creaming method, and simply combine all the ingredients for the filling.
You might be tempted to skip the step of toasting the oats, but I’d caution against that because this is the way to get the most out of their almost nutty flavour. It also ensures they add a bit of crunch and texture to your filling. Use whatever type of oats you have to hand – small pinhead oats are traditional, but rolled oats work just fine – and toast them either in a low oven or, preferably, in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat. You have to watch them carefully, tossing them regularly, so they don’t burn. After five minutes or so they should be a beautiful golden colour, ready to fold into your whipped cream.
For the cake
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour, sieved
For the filling
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
200ml double cream
100g porridge oats, lightly toasted until golden
150g fresh raspberries, halved
1 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Grease and line 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins.
2 Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy and almost white in colour. Now beat in the eggs gradually, making sure they are well incorporated before adding more.
3 Gently fold in the flour until the mixture is smooth.
4 Divide the mixture between the tins and level off. Bake for 20 minutes until the cakes are golden and just coming away from the sides.
5 Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
6 Meanwhile, prepare the cranachan filling. Add the icing sugar and vanilla to the cream and whip to soft peaks. Make sure you don’t overbeat or the cream can split. Add the toasted oats and the raspberries and mix well.
7 Once the cakes are cool, place the filling on top of one cake and spread over evenly. Top with the other cake and a few additional raspberries and oats (optional), then dust with icing sugar.
8 If you are not serving the cake straightaway, cover it and leave in the fridge until needed.