I’m not sure who in my family is responsible for this recipe trick, or even if it’s one which is exclusive to my family – but from as young as I can remember I’ve always known how to make a Victoria Sponge (or any plain sponge) off the top of my head – without having to remember any quantities at all, all down to one simple trick.
It’s a super easy trick that means you can scale up or down easily without having to do any calculations, so if you want to bake a small batch of cupcakes, or a four tier cake masterpiece there’s no notepad or paper involved in converting it to be as big as you need – genius.
So what’s that trick? Weigh your eggs first – for a Victoria Sponge I will generally use 5-6 eggs depending on how large the eggs are – or around 4 for a batch of about 10 muffin-sized cupcakes. Once you have the weight of those, you have the weight for what everything else needs to be. Everything else is done in equal measure, and it makes a lovely moist cake (sorry if you hate the M word).
So what I’ve used for my cake is 6 Eggs (weighing 395g in this case – but swap for what ever your eggs weigh up to), Margarine (Flora is my fave), Self Raising Flour (Better quality flours make a lighter cake and are easier to sift) and Caster Sugar. I’m flavouring mine with a few drops of vanilla essence, and with double cream, raspberries and raspberry conserve to tie it all together.
First whisk your Margarine and Caster Sugar together (sift to get rid of any lumps, and throw away any harder larger pieces, they serve no place in your cake!), it’s really easy to under whisk at this stage, but really difficult to over whisk, you want to have continued until the mixture is pale and almost white looking and is a thick pastey substance. Whisking this in this way first makes a huge difference to how the cake turns out.
I then add in all the eggs giving it a light stir to distribute and fold in half my flour (having previously sifted, again more important than you may think and is worth the extra effort), I do this to stop flour spitting up and causing a mess as it sticks to the wetness of the mixture – I whisk these in fully before I repeat with the second half of the flour. From that point your batter is technically done and can be baked, I add in a teaspoon of Vanilla Essence (again, the better the quality the nicer it tastes, Dr Oetker is horrible IMO!), if you wanted to add any food colouring, chocolate powder etc this would be the stage to do it at.
I personally prefer to use two separate cake tins and split the mixture evenly between the two. However you can cook in one large tin and cut through the centre once cooled if you would prefer. For the 2 large tins I preheat the oven on 180 celcius, leave for 15 minutes before swapping the tins over for another 5 – at this point I check them by sticking a metal skewer in, you can do this with a knife but I like to leave the smallest hole possible – once it comes out clean you’re done, it’s normally around 25 minutes before done.
Once out of the oven, take out of the tin as quickly as you can, the tins are hot so will continue to cook your cake and sometimes the batter can end up sticking to the tins once cool, so it’s best all round to get them out as quickly as possible. Leave the cakes to cook for a good hour before you do anything, it’s easy to get over eager and rush into decorating, but patience is key because otherwise it normally ends up a sloppy mess otherwise.
Whilst the cake is cooking or cooling I prepare my whipped cream, I use a double cream pot (300ml) and mix with 3 table spoons of caster or granulated sugar – either works as it dissolves into the sugar, I mix up into a double cream and really moving your arm around as you whisking speeds up the process as it gets more air into the cream quickly. Once it’s done I tend to mix in a little bit of milk, cream once it turns happens very quickly and a few splashes of milk make the texture much nicer as it can be quite a claggy texture otherwise. It’s better to add the milk in several small splashes and keep taking little tastes, you’ll know when it’s done and it doesn’t usually take a lot to make the texture ten times better than it previously was.
I mix it up with decoration quite a bit, but one of the easiest and most impressive looking ways is using raspberries or strawberries. I use a raspberry conserve (can use jam, I prefer conserve) and completely cover one of the layers of the cake right to the edges, heating lightly in the microwave so it spreads easier as the cake is quite delicate and can start breaking up if the conserve or jam is so cold it becomes hard to spread.
I then like all the way around the edge of the cake with raspberries turned top side down (so they balance on the flat side, for appearance either way up is fine), on the other sponge I create a heavy layer of cream in the middle leaving of around an inch so that the cream does not touch the raspberries. This is a personal choice as I just think it looks a little prettier to see all the raspberries neatly lined up un-spoilt.
Dust off with a light layer of icing sugar (use a tea strainer rather than a large sift if you have one for more control) and pop a few spare berries onto the top and voila you’re done, I recommend placing on your fanciest cake plate or stand (in my case I dropped it just before Christmas, so a dinner plate will have to do). Mixing the cake batter takes around 5-10 minutes, and the simple decoration around 5 – your biggest wait is the cooling of the cake, but hey presto, you get one tasty and impressive looking cake out of it. This went down a treat on Mother’s Day when I baked it for Ben’s Mum & Dad.
I hope you enjoyed something different from me, I absolutely love baking, and the past year I haven’t had much time to do any of it, after the wedding I’d like to get back into it again and keep some posts of this type coming in future!
Are you a star baker?