|Posted on 14 January, 2015 at 15:15|
I must confess it took me many years and much experimentation to achieve the perfect Victoria Sponge. Despite her humble appearance, this quintessentially British classic deserves quite a bit of care and attention.
She's also the subject of much debate - cream and jam or just jam? (Purists would say raspberry jam only but I like both - the sweetness of the jam and sponge sit beautifully with the cream.) Icing sugar or caster sugar on top? For me it's definitely the later. Icing sugar is prettier for sure but I love the crunch of proper sugar as a contrast with the sponge. Extra baking powder with your self raising? It depends on the texture you're after. I add a little to achieve a light sponge with a moist crumb.
And finally a bit of history. Victoria Sponge cake was only made possible with the advent of baking powder in the 19th century, invented in 1843 by Alfred Bird but made popular by August Oetker, a German pharmacist, in the late 1800s. (Who knew?! Dr Oetker!) The cake was named after Queen Victoria who loved a slice of cake with her afternoon tea.
330g butter (softened at room temperature)
330g caster sugar
6 eggs (medium)
330g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
Raspberry jam (about a third of a jar)
200ml double cream
Caster sugar to dust
Line two 8" round cake tins (ideally with loose bases) with non-stick baking parchment. Set oven to 190°C/ 375°F/ gas mark 5.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer (or with hand held beaters) until light and fluffy. (This bit is part of that care and attention I mentioned!)
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Beat the eggs with a fork and add gradually and alternately with the odd spoonful of flour.
Add the remaining flour and mix in on low speed or fold in by hand if using hand held beaters. Add enough of the milk to give a dropping consistency.
Divide mixture between the two tins and bake for about 25 - 30 mins. The cakes should be golden, well risen and spongey to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out without any sticky mixture on it.
Cool cakes in tins for 5 - 10 mins then turn out onto wire racks to cool fully.
Choose the best cake for the top layer. Slice a thin layer off the bottom crust of this cake and discard (or eat!).
Slice a thin layer off the top of the cake you'll be using for the bottom layer.
Whip the double cream. Spread the bottom cake with jam then the whipped cream. Top with the upper cake and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Put the kettle on!