So it seems appropriate that my planned post is about going back to baking basics and keeping it simple. While I have been becoming increasing adventurous in the kitchen, even more so in my daydreams, I thought it would be worthwhile going back to square one and reintroducing myself to the classic Victoria sponge. In pretty much anything that I bake, I can always find a little issue that stops it from being perfect and so I felt that going back to this old staple was needed for a quiet weekend.
When I was younger, I was never particularly bothered about a Victoria Sponge. I found, too often, that the cakes presented to me were dry and gritty and plain; why chose blandness when your childish hands can reach for a soft rich chocolate cake? In my eyes, there was never a contest.
Of course, my tastes have developed much more now, and I have found myself appreciated the simple sponge. Buttercream is more popular at the moment than mounds of whipped cream (yuck!) and a few considered additions can make all the difference. Recently, a friend and I shared a slice of Victoria sponge, laden with strawberries and truly, it was five minutes of heaven. The cake was cooked beautifully, soft and full of air and lightness, but moist and creamy as you bit into it. That is my idea of a good sponge.
You can hardly alter a classic, but a little addition of cornflour -an ingredient I've blogged about here -does add a little something...
- 225g butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 free-range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
- 210g self-raising flour
- 15g cornflour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- milk (about 2-4 tbsp)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180'C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together for a good few minutes, until lightened in colour and 'fluffy'. You know the drill by now, I'm sure. Add in the eggs slowly, one by one, adding a tablespoon of flour inbetween each to avoid any curdling. If you can be bothered, separate the eggs first and give the whites a quick beating beforehand to help make the cake even lighter. You'll be able to add the eggs more slowly this way too. Beat in the vanilla extract, before folding in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. If needed, add in the milk -you're looking for a dropping consistency where the cake mix will fall off an upturned spoon in a satisfying blob. Spoon into the cake tins as evenly as you can.
Pop into the oven for 25 minutes until golden, and the sides are coming away from the tins. Allow to cool, before turning out onto a cooling rack. Once cold, fill and ice your cake. I wanted to make a slightly more transport-friendly cake this time round, so I omitted the buttercream and added only some of my homemade damson jam. For my buttercream recipe, click here. Equally, white chocolate buttercream would be nice too. If leaving the top plain, dust over with icing sugar.