As those of you who know me are aware, I go weak at the knees for any dessert involving chocolate, particularly when it comes to cake. So if you were to offer me a vanilla sponge, chances are I would manage to say no. But that all changed when I went on a Victoria Sponge baking spree recently…
You see, a good friend has a real penchant for Victoria sponges and we recently spent a long time discussing how to make the perfect sponge with her attempts being a little flat and lacking that Mary Berry sparkle.
So upon being invited to her baby shower and volunteering to bake a cake, the decision on what to bake was a no brainer. Victoria Sponge or bust.
And bust it was a few times over. But 4 cakes later (it would have been 3 had I not managed to make the rookey mistake of opening the oven before the cake was set. In the words of Homer Simpson…doh!) I hit upon the perfect combination of height and fluffiness.
Extra baking powder added to self raising flour turned out to being the key. That said, too much baking powder really is too much of a good thing resulting in an overexcited sponge that deflates once cooked. But a teaspoon and a half seems to be the perfect amount for the quantities below and when combined with well aerated cake batter the result is an airy, well risen and light sponge.
This is such a simple cake to put together. The all in one method means the cake is mixed up and ready for the oven in about 10 minutes and then only takes 25 minutes to bake.
More important than speed and simplicity though is the fact that the result is also super delicious. The sponge is rich whilst also being melt in the mouth. When combined with lashings of raspberry jam and wonderfully fluffy and smooth buttercream* it’s fair to say that it’s a cake with enough allure to attract even the most die hard chocolate cake addict.
*You could skip the buttercream altogether and just use jam to sandwich the sponges together or include more traditional whipped cream inside. Fresh strawberries or raspberries would also make a great addition.
For the sponge:
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter at room temperature
4 medium eggs
200g self raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
2 x 20cm cake tins
For the filling:
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
200g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
150g raspberry jam
1 tablespoon caster sugar
- Pre heat the oven to 180ºc/160ºc fan/350ºf. Grease and line 2 20cm cake tins.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients for the sponge using a hand held electric mixer until well combined (around 1 minute).
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and put into the oven for 25 minutes until risen, golden and very slightly coming away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream by beating the butter for the filling for around 1 minute until light and fluffy using a hand held mixer. Then add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat until light and fluffy (around 2 minutes).
- Once the sponges are cool, spread the butter cream over one sponge in an even layer (make sure you select the most perfect one to be your lid) then spread the raspberry jam on top and press the second sponge on top. Sprinkle with the caster sugar and serve.
Whilst at its most delicious eaten on the day of baking, the cake will keep for a few days in a sealed container at room temperature (if it’s hot, store it in the fridge though due to the buttercream).
You can make the buttercream the day before you need it. Store in the fridge then bring to room temperature before giving a quick mix and applying to your cake.
You can also freeze the sponges, unfilled, for up to a month. Wrap each sponge individually in greaseproof paper and then a tight layer of cling film then freeze.