After several years of complaining about my oven burning everything I put in it, resulting in much swearing, frustration and strategic placement of icing/fruit/chocolate/props to hide the burnt bits, I finally have a lovely new oven! A range cooker in fact, so I have loads of space for baking and cooking and it looks pretty sexy!
I wasn’t sure what the first cake I made in it should be, but I read somewhere that Mary Berry’s first job was showing customers how to use their new electric ovens, which she did by baking a Victoria sponge cake; so I thought that that would be a perfect way to test my new oven out. And guess what; IT DIDN’T BURN! There is going to be a lot less swearing in the kitchen from now on…
A Victoria sponge cake is an absolute classic; simple, but elegant; and the perfect cake to enjoy with a pot of tea in the afternoon. There are a couple of different ways to make it, but I like to use the method where you weigh your eggs (in their shells), then use the same weight of each self-raising flour, butter and sugar. For example, my four eggs for this cake weighed a total of 246 grams (weighed in their shells); so I used 246g of butter, 246g of sugar and 246g of flour. This method is effective because there is a lot of variation in the weight of eggs, so if you weigh them and base your recipe off of that then it is guaranteed to be perfectly balanced.
Purists will say that a Victoria sponge should be filled with nothing but jam, but I like a little bit of vanilla buttercream in mine as well. You can obviously omit it if you prefer, or use whipped cream instead, this is a delicious cake however you want to serve it (it should however ALWAYS be accompanied by tea).
Victoria Sponge Cake
- 4 large eggs, weighed in their shells
- softened butter
- caster sugar
- self-raising flour sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- a drop of milk if needed
- about 5 heaped tbsp jam (raspberry or strawberry)
- 100 g softened butter
- 200 g icing sugar sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- caster sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm round tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
Weigh the eggs in their shells then measure out the same weight of each butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour.
Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy.
Whisk in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each one and mixing well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla extract (if using)
Sift together the remaining flour, the baking powder and salt. Add it to the bowl and fold in gently by hand.
Add enough milk so that the mixture drops slowly off a spoon but doesn't run off.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins and spread it level. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and well risen, a skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the buttercream, mix together the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp milk on a low speed until combined then turn up the mixer to a high speed and whisk for a good few minutes until extremely light, pale and fluffy. Add a drop more milk if it seems too stiff.
Reserve the better looking cake layer and level the top of the other if needed. Place it on a serving platter or cake stand and spread with a generous layer of jam.
Transfer the buttercream to a disposable piping bag and snip off the tip (or place in a bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle). Pipe dollops of the buttercream on top of the jam then gently place the other cake layer on top. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar then serve.