Posted by: Stephlechef | October 11, 2011

Vicky sponges

I just wiki-ed these and yes, they are apparently named after Queen Victoria. But I don’t think they’re “rustic” or “vintage”… they’re just a fabby easy standard cake. In a world of fancy cupcakes and dinky pastries, here is a cake that can’t behind a hat of frosting and sugar flowers… this one actually has to taste good.

I always made this (as in, at least once a month) when I was younger, firstly because I spent a lot of time at my Nan’s with the cousins and it was the crowd-pleaser of choice (often with some sugar strands thrown in to make it a rainbow cake…), and secondly my Mum seems to knock all the air out of cakes just by touching them and they tend to come out resembling toast. She only found out many years later that my Nan and I have a secret weapon *ahem* baking powder *ahem*… I’m leaving said secret ingredient as optional, as sometimes it rises just fine without it. And other than the toast thing, this recipe is pretty much foolproof 🙂

Traditional Victoria sponge cake (serves 8 )

(Total cost £2.33, cost per slice 30p – including filling)

175g caster sugar

175g self-raising flour

175g butter or margarine (butter makes a slightly denser cake but gives it a lovely taste… and about a squillion more calories)

3 eggs

drop of vanilla extract

1tsp baking powder (optional, but don’t go overboard as it feels horrible on your teeth)

Preheat the oven to 180c.

Cream the butter and sugar together until combined and pale.

Break the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk lightly.

Add half the egg mix to the butter mix along with half the flour and beat until just combined, then add the other half eggs and the other half flour as well as the vanilla and baking powder and do the same.

It should be all combined and fairly smooth. You should be able to see some nice eggy bubbles in it, and no balls of flour (avoidance of this is through sieving… but my sieve is rubbish so I don’t bother). Don’t over-beat it as it will kill aaaaall that lovely air. Adding the eggs half at a time seems to stop the mixture from curdling.

I made individual cakes by cooking it in a large square tin for about half an hour, then cutting out circles and slicing them in half sideways… but to made a normal share-able sponge cake, pour the mixture into 2 lined, greased 18cm round sandwich tins (spread level, but don’t faff too much with it) and cook at 180c for 15-20 minutes. Do NOT open the oven for at least the first 10-12 minutes, or your cakes WILL SINK. You have been warned. Trust, young Skywalker.

The cakes are done when a skewer poked into the centre doesn’t come out covered in gloop, or when you press the top lightly and it springily springs back.

Turn out to cool on a wire rack (you might want to keep one right-ways up (the crusty bit on top) on the wire rack, just for aesthetic purposes (it won’t get lots of crosses on the top of the cake that way))

To make butter cream to fill the cake, mix 2 parts icing sugar to one part butter (here butter really is better) with a splash of vanilla essence and cream it all together. I wouldn’t recommend using an electric whisk as it makes big old clouds of icing sugar. If, however, this is your method of choice, keep your mouth open while whisking and you can eat the clouds of sugar. Yumyum, coughcough. Alternatively, you can use whipped double cream in the cake, but I would still sweeten and vanilla-ise it.

Spread jam (I don’t know what the traditional flavour is, I like strawberry but raspberry/apricot is also yum. In my individual ones, I found blackberry was rather good because the whole fruits in it gave lots of height to the cakeys) on one side of cake and buttercream on the other part and sandwich together. Sprinkle with icing sugar, cut and enjoy as a lovely afternoon tea. Except I don’t drink tea.

Tips: for economy, if you don’t normally finish cakes before they turn to rock or you live on your own (or without a dustbin dressed up as a boy/housemate), make half a batch and cut the cake in half, so you end up with a half-moon sandwich. OR make it all, and freeze one cooked, unfilled cake for later in the day/week/whatever. 🙂

You can also make this cake chocolate by replacing a spoonful or so of the flour with cocoa powder, and likewise for the icing. It is also good in lemon, just add lemon zest and a dribble of juice to the cake, and make a lemony icing, same with orange. And for fun, sprinkle sugar strands into the cake mix and sandwich it together with chocolate. So many possibilities… 🙂

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