As much as I love cooking, I love baking even more. To me baking a cake is almost like magic. You take some ingredients, combine them into a gloopy, add some heat, and magically it transforms into something wonderful. I also find, probably because I am still in the lower half of the learning curve, that my baking turns out better than my cooking.
So imagine my excitement when I saw that my local council (Havering in London) is planning a baking competition, which I am going to use as my first attempt to showcase my baking passion.
So today I set about practicing my skills at producing a Victoria Sponge to WI (Women’s Institute) standards, which of course is the British standard in cake making, and using my educated guess the standard in which all cakes in England will be judged.
The Brief History of the Victoria Sponge.
The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a ‘jam sponge’ and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.
A Victoria sponge is made using one of two methods. The traditional method involves creaming caster sugar with fat (usually butter), mixing thoroughly with beaten egg, then folding flour and raising agent into the mixture. The modern method, using an electric mixer or food processor, involves simply whisking all the ingredients together until creamy Additionally, the modern method typically uses an extra raising agent, and some recipes call for an extra-soft butter or margarine. Both the traditional and modern methods are relatively quick and simple, producing consistent results, making this type of mixture one of the most popular for children and people in a hurry. This basic ‘cake’ mixture has been made into an endless variety of treats and puddings, including fairy cakes, butterfly cakes, chocolate cake, Eve’s pudding and many others
This is the classic Victoria Sponge recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation, with very little changes made since the recipe first generations ago
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Baking time: 30-35 minutes
- 6 oz/170 g butter, at room temperature
- 6 oz/ 170 g caster sugar
- 6 oz/170 g flour
- 3 large eggs
- a few drops of vanilla essence
- raspberry jam and sifted icing sugar (to finish)
- Preheat oven to GM3/325°F/170°C.
- Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
- Mix the butter and sugar together until you get a pale fluffy mixture, that easily drops off the spoon.
- In a separate jug or bowl beat the eggs together, then add them a little at a time, beating after each addition. This method will ensure the mixture does not curdle.
- When the eggs have been incorporated, add the vanilla extract.
- Sift about a quarter of the flour into the mixture from a height (this adds air, or so my mom says). And then fold the flour into the mixture. Repeat this step until all the flour has been incorporated into the mixture.
- Divide the mixture equally into the two tins.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. The centre of the sponge should spring back when lightly pressed.
- What makes a good victoria sponge cake (wiki.answers.com)