Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

January Recipes! Sponge Cake and Butter Bean Pasta

Sponge Cake!

You will need:

200g sugar
200g butter/margarine
(at room temperature)
200g self-raising flour
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. In a bowl, cream together the sugar and the butter/margarine until pale.

3. Gradually add in the eggs and the flour until well combined, then stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Either spoon the finished mixture into cupcake cases, or divide it evenly between two cake tins.

5. Bake in the oven. The cupcakes should take around 12-15 minutes, and the larger cakes will take around 25-30 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time, check whether they’re done with a metal skewer (or a knife)– if you poke the skewer into the cake and withdraw it, it should come out clean. If any cake sticks to it, your cake is not yet baked and needs a little longer in the oven before it is ready.

6. Once your cakes are out of the oven and cooled you can decorate them how you wish. Spoon a simple glacé icing made from icing sugar and water over the cupcakes, or top them with buttercream. If you’ve made a sandwich cake, you can fill it with buttercream in addition to the jam, or you could ice the top with glacé icing. It is up to you!

When I was a child, my grandma always baked sponge cake. She either made individual cupcakes, or made a plain and simple Victoria sponge sandwich, filled with raspberry jam. The cake was always delicious. She was never much good at baking anything else, but I think that goes to show that if you’ve got a good, basic cake recipe you can dig out when you need to: baking doesn’t have to be complicated. My grandma taught me how to make her basic sponge cake, and it is my go-to recipe when I just need a quick and simple cake fix. It is usually cheaper to make your own cake than it is to buy one, and you can be as decadent or as frugal as you like with the toppings. Sometimes I’ll make lavishly frosted cupcakes as a celebration food, or I will fill a Victoria sponge with jam and dust the top with a little icing sugar if I am just after a slice of cake to take to the library. This is a versatile, simple and easy recipe, which makes either one sponge cake or twelve cupcakes. If my grandma could do it, so can you.

Butter Bean Pasta

Butter bean pasta
Butter bean pasta

You will need (to serve two):

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g tin of butter beans, drained
75g soft goats cheese
½ jar basil pesto
Handful of green beans
(washed and chopped)
150g tagliatelle
(or any pasta of your choice)

1. Start by putting the pasta water onto boil, then grab yourself a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic with a splash of olive oil for 5 minutes, until starting to soften and colour.

2. Add the drained butter beans to the frying pan; meanwhile, tip the pasta into the boiling water to cook according to the packet instructions. This way it should all be ready at the same time.

3. After 5 more minutes add the green beans, then turn up the heat and give it all a final blast. It’s ready when the butter beans are starting to crumble.

4. Drain the pasta, then stir in the pesto and bean mix. Crumble over the goats cheese, and enjoy!

It’s the time of year where a lot of us are feeling guilty for overindulging over Christmas, and both our wallets and waistbands are feeling the pressure. The answer to this lies in meals which are healthy, cheap, and simple to make – and above all, still tasty.

Ever since I’ve been at university, one of my mother’s favourite questions has been ‘Are you eating enough beans?’, and though I initially started buying them to please her, I can no longer imagine my cupboard without them. Butter beans are a particular favourite – their creamy texture gives the illusion of indulgence, whilst meanwhile providing us with protein, iron and potassium. How’s that for healthy? If you’re feeling particularly decadent you could always add a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts for some extra crunch, or, for a slightly different flavour, you could substitute the goats cheese with feta. The slightly tangy, creamy cheese makes this dish though, so keep to something similar if possible.

For a plethora of culinary tips and ideas, check out

Sponge Cake Article + Photography: Zosia Edwards
Butter Bean Pasta Article + Photography: Bryony Bowie