I felt simultaneously honoured and petrified when Becksie suggested that I write a guest post. It’s a huge pressure to blog-perform so I hope you enjoy tonight. Thank you for having me A Year without Supermarkets.
Keeping it simple I will be blogging tonight about making the perfect Victoria Sponge. I’ll take you step-by-step through my favourite recipe with little hints and tips, Mary Berry style-y. Enjoy…
Being brought up with foodie ‘Grandad Gray’ (Dad to me) I grew up ignorant of recipes and the concept of measuring out exact quantities of ingredients (he makes it up as he goes along). I always thought you just threw in a bit of this, a bit of that, whizzed it up, stirred it for a while and ‘ta-dah’, a masterpiece was cooked up (excuse the pun). After some trial and error with baking, however, I don’t think that applying a lassiez-faire attitude to cake-making works. My first and foremost rule is never, ever guess quantities when you are baking a cake (this, of course, doesn’t apply if you’re: not making a cake (guessing quantities for any other dish is completely acceptable); have used the same recipe for years and can bake it with your eyes closed; Grandad Gray). I always measure out the ingredients beforehand so I don’t waste time mid-cake making. If you are that way inclined this also allows you to pretend you are a celebrity TV chef – they never have to measure anything (of course, I would never do this but I do have a ‘friend’ who does – haha).
Here are the EXACT quantities of ingredients that I measured out beforehand:
- 4 free-range eggs
- 225g/8oz caster sugar
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour
- ¼ tablespoon vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- 225g/8oz soft butter at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons of good-quality strawberry jam
- whipped double cream (sadly for the precisionist among us, you have to play this one by ear)
Another thing I have learned through trial and error is to make sure the eggs are at room temperature. This is quite a common tip but an important one nonetheless. Incidentally, I feel rather isolated from the rest of my family because I am the only family member who keeps eggs in the fridge. I don’t have any fancy philosophy for this, it just ‘feels’ like the right thing to do. Becksie et al think it’s ridiculous. What do you do? Do you keep eggs in the fridge or at room temperature? And what’s your reason for doing so? Anyway I digress…
I’d also recommend using butter that is at room temperature. If it’s too warm and oily it can make the cake feel a bit slimy and if the butter is too hard and cold, it won’t mix very well.
Before we crack on with the recipe I also have another cake life-saver to share with you. Becksie and I only discovered the joy of this a year ago and we haven’t looked back since. Baking paper / Grease-Proof paper is a must-have for bakers. It makes getting the cake out post-oven much easier. I will say, however, that it’s quite expensive so I am aware that, if you’re on a tight-budget, it isn’t always possible to factor this in. Interestingly for A Year Without Supermarkets, it is also one of the harder things to buy sans supermarket.
Right – (finally) on to my recipe
a) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
b) Put baking paper into the bottom of two round baking tins (2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins).
c) Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, butter, milk and vanilla essence.
d) Mix everything together until well combined.
e) Divide the mixture evenly between the tins.
f) Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
g) The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins.
h) Cool the cakes on a wire rack completely.
i) Once the cakes are fully cool you can then spread one with plenty of jam. On top of the jam spread the whipped cream then place the other cake on top.
j) Sprinkle caster sugar (or icing sugar if you’d rather) on top of the top cake.
Ta-da… the perfect Vicky sponge.
One last thing – the devil is in the detail. Always sieve the flour and don’t beat the ingredients too much (or too little).
Happy baking. Thanks for reading and do let us know your egg habits