Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Victoria Sponge and Friends

This is my first Victoria Sponge! Last night I had the company of the delightful ladies R and M for tea and cake. Ever since Verity from The B Files made her sponge I've been thinking that this is a recipe I'd love to try. Now as pretty as it was I don't think I would have won any prizes at the village fete as it was a tad on the dense side. The recipe calls for cake flour and not having any in the cupboard I reduced the flour a bit and added some corn starch. If you happen to be a practiced baker of sponge cakes perhaps you could pass on some of your wisdom as I'm going to be baking another one to tweak things a bit. The really important thing is that we ladies had such a nice time getting together and the time flew by all too quickly. After taking Deacon for his last walk of the day I came back to discover some tea left in the pot. I opened the fridge door and reached for the milk, casting a glance at the cake. Feeling a bit like Nigella, I was leaning against the counter at 10:30 pm eating Victoria Sponge and drinking a cup of tea by the dim light of the stove. It was lovely having the ladies over, we'll have to do it again - soon!


  1. My word Darlene, that cake looks stunning!

    I make sponges a lot and by far the best way to do them in my experience is to make sure you use equal amounts of butter, flour and sugar. I use 220g each of butter, self raising flour, and golden caster sugar (does that make any sense to an American?) and always put a dash of vanilla essence in. And I use four eggs. That makes a nice light golden cake with a crisp edge. To make the whipped cream in the centre even tastier I put more vanilla essence and some icing sugar in before I start whipping to sweeten it.

    The key to a light sponge is good sieving of flour and hefty elbow grease when it comes to creaming and folding. The more air you get in the lighter and lovelier it is!

  2. Rachel, Thank you so much for the advice! I did have to spend some time on Google figuring out what exactly golden caster sugar was and converting measurements. My recipe called for 200g of butter and that seemed like an awful lot but I see you use a titch more! Well, we don't eat it every day do we. The whipped cream with vanilla and sugar is the yummiest part:) Your advice about the sieving makes sense and is something that I never do - I must start!

  3. No problem Darlene!

    I know, it seems like a heart attack inducing amount of butter, but cakes are a special treat and if you're going to eat something naughty you might as well do it properly, in my opinion!

    I look forward to seeing your future sponges. They are such lovely cakes to bake and always get such a good response from people. No one can resist the jammy creamy goodness!

  4. That looks good and a lot prettier than mine with the cream and strawberries on the top.

    I've never come across cake flour, what on earth is it?!

    Rachel's advice is good, but for an even lighter sponge, you should weigh your eggs and then use equal amounts of butter/flour/sugar. In practice I don't do this, sticking to a 3egg, 6oz of each mixture. I tend to use vegetable magarine rather than butter - it doesn't really influence the flavour but I think it makes it a bit lighter as you can beat it more easily. And I don't bother sieving my flour and have never had any problems.

  5. Oh, what a gorgeous cake!! I've never tried a sponge, but this is the perfect season with all the lovely berries around. Will have to check for a recipe that I don't need to convert though!

  6. One of my big gripes here in England is not being able to get cake flour. I keep thinking I should bring some back with me from America, but then I wonder what the bag inspectors would think of all that white powder!

    Your cake looks lovely. And it's worth noting that British cakes tend to be a bit denser than American cakes (not sure how they'd compare with Canadian)...

    K x

  7. That looks utterly delectable! Well done!

  8. verity, More great advice, I think that I'll look at buying some kitchen scales. I think that cake flour produces less gluten than all-purpose flour, therefore, making a cake less chewy. I only had one stick of butter in the house so I used that and 8 tbsp of margarine. Good to know that you can use all marg as that's what we usually have on hand.

    JoAnn, Rachel made a lovely sponge with blueberries, another lovely summer fruit.

    Kristina, Too funny about the bag inspectors!!! You would be in the back room so quickly! I wondered about British cakes as the Devon Seed Cake that I've made has that same dense texture, interesting point.

  9. Paperback Reader, Thanks very much, I wish that I could have you all over for a slice!

  10. It looks delicious, Darlene!

    I'd never heard of cake flour either... I always use self-raising flour, with some extra baking powder thrown in for good measure. (Baking soda, maybe, across the pond? Or is that Bicarbonate of Soda... hmm)

    I always make huge sponges, because they tend to go quickly in our house, using 250g or 300g of marg, sugar and flour - but only 3 eggs, which is fewer than most recipes suggest. Still, they always seem to end up light and yummy... might be in the beating of the mixture, and the sieving. Like Rachel, I always add a dash of vanilla too.

    Next time I'm shopping, I'll investigate golden caster sugar... I always use caster sugar rather than granulated, but haven't used golden caster sugar yet. In everything else I use muscovado sugar, which is simply delicious.

    Oh, and I tend to use butter icing (twice as much icing sugar as butter) instead of whipped cream for the centre.

    My favourite sponge cake flavour isn't a Victoria, actually, but chocolate and lime. Sounds odd, but is so tasty - use cocoa powder (about 15-20g?) and take 15-20g away from the amount of flour used. Then add zest and juice of a lime. Mmmm. Ok, I'm going to have to make that tonight, now... my mouth is watering

  11. Just realised what a very long comment that was! How shameful that I'm more effusive about cake than I am about books...

  12. StuckInABook, Wow! I think that there's a baker inside you screaming to get out. More wonderful advice, thanks so much. We do use baking powder here as well, I'm still going to investigate the difference between caster, icing and granulated sugar though. We have brown sugar in a light and dark version but I think that is different again - so many sugars! I did see a recipe that called for the butter cream filling that you use - so many fillings! Your chocolate and lime sponge proves definitively that the variations are endless:) There's a recipe out there for chocolate zucchini loaf, who would have thought that such a combination would be so delicious! Thanks again Simon!

  13. That looks scrumptious! There's nothing good (meaning sweet) in my house at the moment, so I wish I could click my heels together and have a slice of that appear about now! I wonder if I could find an americanized version of this (meaning non-metric measurements--I've sadly never learned them...). And I had to laugh at Simon's comment--he effuses very well over books, too.