Friday, 17 April 2015

Victoria Sponge

The Victoria Sponge is such a classic British cake. When Queen Victoria's husband died in the nineteenth century, the cake which had become popular for afternoon tea, was named after her.There is something so satisfying about the simplicity of this recipe, and yet I rarely make it, because I am a chocolate girl through and through. If I'm going to make a cake for us to enjoy at home, it invariably is some form of chocolate cake. So it's always nice when customers requests cakes that are brilliant, but that I rarely choose. I love hearing what other people's favourite flavours are, and to have the opportunity to provide someone's favourite cake for their celebration, is such a priviledge.

Last weekend, I made a 12" Victoria Sponge, and thought I would share the recipe because it worked really well for this volume of cake. I am always daunted at the prospect of scaling up quantities. It feels so much more risky to bake an enormous cake, as the take longer to bake, which means that you have to adjust the temperature and cover up the cake to prevent it from burning while the middle cooks completely. However, this worked beautifully!

Ingredients (makes 1 x 12" round sponge)
700g caster sugar
700g unsalted butter at room temperature
10 free range eggs
530g plain flour
175g self raising flour
105ml whole milk
2.5tsp vanilla extract

750g icing sugar, sifted
240g unsalted butter at room temperature
75ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (if you only have essence, I'd recommend omitting it)
(plus 300g strawbery jam)

1) Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Grease and line your cake tin (preferably a loose bottomed one, as this makes it much easier to get the cake out). I read that using sunflower oil to grease the tin instead of butter stops the outer edges of the cake going crisp.
2) In the bowl of a free standing mixer (or a very large mixing bowl) beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy.
3) Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks like it is curdling, add a spoonful of flour before adding another egg.
4) Beat in the vanilla extract.
5) Sieve together the flours and add about a third to the cake mixture. Beat until combined.
6) Add a third of the milk then beat again until combined, and repeat until you have used all of the flour and milk.
7) Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and place on the centre rack in the oven. Set the timer to 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, check to see how the top of the cake is looking. If it is starting to go beyond a golden colour, cover the top of the cake with foil or greaseproof paper to stop it from burning. Bake for another 30 minutes and then insert a skewer into the centre of the cake to check if it has baked through. If the cake is baked, the skewer will come out clean. If there is a lot of cake mixture on the skewer, set the timer for another 10 minutes, then check again. If there are just a few crumbs clinging to the skewer, bake for another 4 minutes and check with the skewer. I think in my fan assisted electric oven, it took 1 hour 20 minutes to bake completely, but I failed to write it down, so can't be 100% sure! (So helpful, I know!)
8) Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool for about 10 - 15 minutes before removing the cake from the tin. (It will take a few hours to cool completely, due to its size!)
9) If you'd like to sandwich your cake together with another one, start all over again!

1) Beat together the icing sugar and unsalted butter until all of the butter is mixed into the icing sugar. It will look very crumbly.
2) Combine the milk & vanilla extract. Then, slowly and gradually add this to the butter and icing sugar.
3) You will find that the icing will come together fairly quickly, but will be quite stiff. It really needs a lot of beating to get it to a spreadable consistency. I beat mine in a freestanding mixer for five minutes. If you are doing this by hand, or with a handheld electric whisk, I would recommend adding a little more milk to help soften the consistency. Try adding a teaspoon extra at a time so you don't end up with an icing that is too runny!
4) Once the icing has reached your desired consistency, you're ready to sandwich your cakes together. To do this, I leveled the top of one of the cakes to remove the slight dome that occurred during the baking process. Then I used a palette knife to spread the buttercream, and topped with the jam. Place the second layer directly on top of the jam, then dust with icing sugar to finish.

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