For my first baking adventure back in Canada, I decided to pay tribute to The-Nation-That-Didn’t-Want-Me with the most classic of English cakes: The Victoria Sponge. I’m actually not a huge fan of sponge cakes so it’s surprising that I chose this one… basically, my only reasons were that it’s pretty and I had the ingredients on hand. Also, it’s summery and over here in Saskatchewan, where there is still snow on the ground, we can use all the warm-weather encouragement we can get.
Now, we all know a sponge should be light and airy and should swell like a pufferfish. Well, my mother’s oven and I have had some issues in the past and this time was no different – the beginnings were promising but the final result bore a distinct resemblance to an inner tube. I salvaged the situation by baking another cake (which also fell, naturally) and slicing the top half off each (the unsightly cake bits can be used for cake balls, or trifles, or just for eating; I chose to do the latter) and then sandwiching the bottom halves.
And what made THIS particular Victoria sponge rather exceptional were three things: 1) It was stuffed to bursting with fresh, sliced strawberries (not just jam!), 2) I used my mother’s raspberry jam under the cream, which is the juiciest, tastiest, fruitiest jam in the world, and 3) the decorations were completely original, courtesy of yours truly.
All things considered, it looked great. I didn’t eat any because I brought it to a birthday party (for a girl named Twyla, obviously) and it got gobbled up, and also because I’d gorged myself on leftover sponge cake bits and was feeling a bit ill by that time. Needless to say, the cake is rather tasty.
I used the recipe from my beloved Peyton and Byrne book, a gift from the splendid Miss Erwood. Here’s the trimmed-down Jordi-version of the recipe:
Weigh 4 eggs in their shells. Measure out an equal weight of unsalted butter, caster sugar, and self-raising flour.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Butter and line a 20cm round cake tin.
In a big bowl, beat the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, plus a tablespoonful of measured-out flour. Once it’s all well-incorporated, add the rest of the flour and mix gently.
Scrape it into your tin and bake 35-40 minutes, until it’s springy. Cool.
Saw that sucker in half, then slather it with jam, cream, and strawberries. Make it sandwich-y and then sprinkle, liberally, with icing sugar. If you’re feeling creative, you can do what I did with the top…
Draw your message/name in hollow letters on a piece of paper, then cut the letters out (I had to carve them out with a jackknife, ’cause the scissors couldn’t get in there). Place the paper over the top of the cake and sprinkle your sugar – voila, sugar writing. Totally magic.