Let ’em eat cake: My very first Victoria Sponge

Today I was in urgent need of some baking therapy and so I decided to bake a Victoria Sponge – my very first Victoria Sponge, that is (I blame the Great British Bake Off…). In the past few weeks I researched the topic thoroughly, looked at countless photos online and watched several videos on YouTube. Then I did some more research on sandwich pans. And then I orderd Alan Silverwood’s Victoria Surprise set, which arrived yesterday. This is a very nifty loose-bottom pan set indeed: apart from the normal, flat bottoms, it also contains bottoms with insets (allowing for more filling to be stuffed into your cake) (this is, of course, a Very Good Thing indeed – think strawberries and cream. Yum!). Unfortunately, my pans arrived with a couple of scratches on the outside, and I seriously thought about sending them back, when the aforementioned need for baking therapy overcame my need to have spotless pans.

So I carefully lined the bottoms of the pans with baking paper, greased the pans, and dusted them with flour (dusting pans with loose bottoms is … eh … interesting). For the dough I used a 2+2+2+4 recipe (200g butter, 200g sugar, 200g flour, 4 eggs + baking powder for those who don’t have self-raising flour + a bit of vanilla extract to taste), which made me feel very competent and empowered because I didn’t need to check a recipe. (I LOVE recipes like that!) Thanks to the very thorough research I’d done I knew that I needed to cream the butter and sugar very thoroughly to create a very fluffy mixture (many thanks to Poires au Chocolat for her excellent post on creaming butter & sugar!). Furthermore, I knew that the mixture isn’t supposed to curdle when you add the eggs (oops), so this time I was very careful with the eggs and kept beating and beating and beating and the dough got fluffier and fluffier and fluffier. Whee! 🙂 I also knew that I wanted to fold in the flour with a spoon rather than using the mixer (At this point, I kept hearing Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry’s faintly disappointed voices, “You’ve overworked the dough.” Oh dear. No, no, we wouldn’t want to disappoint Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.) So I folded, took a taste sample (yummy), then filled my lovely sandwich tins and put them into the oven.

Now if you thought this was the end of my worries, you couldn’t be more wrong. What if the pans would leak and drip? What if the dough wouldn’t rise properly? Luckily, the pans didn’t leak and the dough eventually decided to rise. But then the next problem presented itself: when to take the pans out of the oven. (I kept hearing Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood again, “It’s overcooked.” Or, worse, “It’s underdone.” Aaaargh!) I checked Nigella’s recipe in How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and then decided to use a good, old cake-tester. (Oh dear, what if the cake collapses when I open the oven door???) (Geez, when have I become such a baking wuss? Note to self: Start baking more often again.)

I poked and prodded my poor cakes several times before I was satisfied that they were most likely done (I could just about keep from digging a hole in one of the cakes in order to try the sponge …). They came out of the pans like a dream, had a lovely light colour and looked very fluffy indeed. Yay!

For the filling I went with the traditional raspberry jam – and I have to say, I LOVED it. The cake tasted just lovely – it wasn’t too dry – and the raspberry jam added a nice tartness to the sweetness of the sponge. My conclusion: this is a very nice cake for a Saturday afternoon tea, and I can’t wait for strawberries to come into season. Filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, this will be the perfect summer cake!

(And if I could, I would totally invite you all for tea!) 🙂