Victoria Sponge

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    one

    20 cm cake
    • Difficulty

      Medium

    • Ready in

      55 min

Appears in

The Pink Whisk Guide to Cake Making

The Pink Whisk Guide to Cake Making

By Ruth Clemens

Published 2013

  • About

The perfect Victoria sponge seems to be the holy grail of baking – if you can achieve a well-risen, golden, fluffy sponge you can conquer anything! There are a couple of tricks to help you on the way: the creaming of the butter and sugar and good-quality tins. Follow the steps and you’ll soon be the grand master of fabulous sponge cakes.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 250 g (9 oz) very soft butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 250 g (9 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 250 g (9 oz) self-raising (-rising) flour
  • 2 tbsp milk

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Prepare the cake tins by greasing them well and lining the base of each with a circle of baking paper.

    2. Before you cream the butter and sugar together, the butter needs to be really softened – take no shortcuts here. You should be able to easily push a knife right through the block of butter with little to no resistance. Dice and put it into a microwave-proof bowl and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave on half power if it’s not soft enough – but don’t let it melt!

    3. Place the butter in a large bowl and add the caster sugar. Using an electric hand whisk begin to cream them together. Keep going until the mixture has gone very pale: it should almost double in volume and you should no longer feel the texture of the sugar within the butter. This will take you 5–6 minutes. It’s worth the effort – the air you incorporate now will result in a lovely fluffy sponge.

    4. Add the vanilla extract to the creamed butter and sugar and stir together. Crack the eggs into a jug and beat them with a fork so that they are less likely to curdle when added to the creamed butter and sugar.

    5. Add a small amount of the beaten eggs, just a little drop, and whisk them in fully. Add another drop and beat again. As you add more and more egg the mixture will slip about as you whisk it – but keep whisking until the egg and the creamed butter and sugar come together. It’s really important to do it step by step and whisk the air back into the mixture before adding the next drop of egg. Keep working this way until all of the egg is incorporated and you have a light and fluffy mixture – still packed with the air bubbles you’ve been working in (and not a sign of curdling!). If the air isn’t worked back in after each addition the mix will be very liquidy and will have lost all the oomph you gave it in the creaming stage. For the best cakes it’s worth spending the time doing it slowly.

    6. Now comes the flour. Prepare to be shocked: I don’t sift it! I’ve found it makes little to no difference in the finished result. However, if your flour has been sitting in the cupboard for a fair while and is looking lumpy, it will need sifting in. Set aside the electric mixer and add the flour to the butter, sugar and egg mixture in the bowl. Using a thin edged spatula or a metal spoon fold in the flour, cutting through the mixture, lifting and turning it until all of the flour is incorporated. Add the milk and stir through.

    7. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and roughly level with the back of spoon. Try to avoid getting mixture up the sides of the tins if you can as this can give the finished cakes a little raised lip.

    8. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden brown and when pressed lightly on the top the cakes spring back up. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing and cooling fully on a wire rack. If left in tins to cool completely cakes will ‘sweat’ and become soggy. It’s fine to leave the paper on the bases as they cool.

    9. Once fully cooled it’s time to assemble the cake. Place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste in a large bowl. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks. Set to one side.

    10. Remove the paper from the base of each cake and choose which will be the top, setting this one to one side. Place the base cake onto a serving plate and cover with a generous layer of raspberry jam. Don’t take the jam right up to the edge of the cake, but about 1 cm (⅜in) away from the edge all the way round.
    11. To form the rosettes of cream peeking out between the layers you’ll need to use a piping bag fitted with a round open nozzle, but spreading it on will do just as well if you prefer. Pipe small rounds of cream, or spread generous dollops, all around the inside of the jam circle, again keeping 1 cm (⅜in) away from the edge. The weight of the cream will start push the jam out towards the edge. Fill in the rosettes with the remaining cream, piping on and spreading out gently with a palette knife.

    12. Carefully lift the top of the cake into position. The weight of it will squidge out the jam and cream so that it just sits at the edge of the cake. Dust with a little icing sugar and ta dah! Perfect Victoria sponge.