Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge, Queen of Cakes

A plain, homemade sponge really is a wonderful thing.  If you have never made one, for fear of blandness or failure do not despair!  The smell of a freshly baked sponge is one of the most beautiful and homely smell you can imagine.  The taste of a proper homemade sponge is also something of a revelation – it is soft, sweet and aromatic without being cloyingly dense or sickly sweet.  If you are reading this thinking, hmm, yeah, I don't think so....  give it a go – you'll be pleasantly surprised!
The other great thing about sponges is they take on any kind of flavour you ask of them, either while they are cooking or after, so you are free to find your perfect combination without the fear of a saggy, malnourished looking cake!

Tip – A great sponge cake is all about measuring.  I am giving a  very proportionally specific recipe here, which is not my usual affair, however it is truly the best way to ensure you get a lovely soft springy sponge.
The method is easy  - all mixed in together – knowing your eggs are fresh, your butter (or margarine) is soft enough to work without being sloppy... these are the things that take a little practice.  If your eggs are large, or very yolky, just use three.

4 medium free range eggs, at room temperature, lightly whisked
175 grams caster sugar
175 grams self raising flour
175 grams butter
1 ½  teaspoons baking powder

Pre-heat oven to 180°C

For best results, bake this mixture in 2 18cm cake tins lined with baking paper on the bottom,  rather than one big one... unless you want one big one!

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and beat them together well with a hand mixer.  Beat for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture makes a thick ribbon when dropped from a spoon.
Mixture should be lump free and entirely smooth.

Divide the mixture in half and pour into lined baking tins.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and springy,  the sponge should live up to its name and feel spongy when you press your finger gently into it.  It will also come away from the sides of the tin well if cooked through.
Leave the cakes in the baking tins for a minute or so before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.

Lovely with jam and cream, or lemon butter and cream, this is a classic.  Of course there are hundreds of ways to utilise the humble sponge: trifles, bombes, layer cake and sponge fingers.
If you want to jazz it up – make a light syrup of orange juice and Cointreau and pour over while the cake is still in the tin.  Marvellous with Fresh cream and shards of grated dark chocolate.

For a true treat, marble fresh raspberries through double cream and sandwich the cakes together.  Dust with icing sugar and serve for afternoon tea!

If you want a chocolate hit, add 2 tablespoons of pure cocoa powder to the mix, add a little water if the mix is too stiff. Serve sandwiched with cream, strawberries or cherries and covered in ganache....yum!  Praise Queen Victoria and her sweet tooth!!!!