James Bond Food layer cake

Layer cake

No, this post isn’t about the Daniel Craig caper that so impressed the producers of the Bond films, but, rather, about the cake that’s mentioned in ‘Quantum of Solace’, one of the short stories in For Your Eyes Only (1960).

Not that we find out very much about the cake. Described as a ‘rich layer cake’, it’s served as the sweet on an Imperial Airways flight between Nairobi and London taken by Philip Masters, whose salutary tale the Governor of the Bahamas relates to James Bond.

The orange cake described below might be the sort of thing that Philip Masters is served. It’s inspired by recipes of the early 1960s offered by Marguerite Patten and (in recognition of the Caribbean setting of the short story) Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner.

Makes one layer

  • 115g butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Juice of 1 orange (reserving 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 30g mixed peel

For the filling

  • 85g butter
  • 170g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • ¼ tsp angostura bitters

For decoration

  • Icing sugar
  • Dried orange slices

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan-assisted; 375F) and grease the cake tin. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the baking powder to the flour and sieve the flour into the bowl. Stir in the eggs a little at a time, then add the zest, orange juice and mixed peel. Mix well, then scoop the mixture into the cake tin. Cook in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, check that the cake is cooked and, if so, let the cake stand for about five minutes, then remove it from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Repeat the steps to prepare a second or, if wished, third layer.

To make the filling, cream together the butter and icing sugar. Add the orange juice, the zest and bitters and mix well.

To assemble the cake, slice the top off the base cake, then spread the filling over the flat surface. Place the upper layer on top of the filling (or, if making a three-layer cake, spread another batch of filling mixture over the sliced top of the middle layer, then place the third cake on top of that). To decorate, put some icing sugar (about a tablespoon) into a sieve, then sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake. Add the dried orange slices.

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