Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Victoria Sponge

{Cake Number Two: Victoria Sponge}

Bake a Victoria Sponge. That was my plan. I thought it would be a breeze, but I was wrong. At eleven pm last night when I dumped two little golden disks, dense as hockey pucks, into our compost bin I felt like a dark cloud had descended on our little kitchen. What the heck am I going to do now? Birthdays don't wait for bad bakers and my poor mum, first no chocolate then no cake?

I'm not sure if my self-rising flour was old, or if I didn't measure properly, or if that little minx Nigella made an error in her recipe after one too many gin & tonics. Whatever the reason, cake number one ended up in the bin.

The Victoria Sponge is not a difficult cake. It is a pretty basic sponge cake that is either baked in two small pans or cut in two and made into a sort of cake sandwich. Traditionally the cake is eaten with whipped cream and raspberry jam. Apparently it was Queen Victoria's favourite. My plan was to make a lemon sponge and fill it with mascarpone cheese and lemon curd. This was Nigella's idea not mine. I trusted her.

This morning as I lay in savasana at early morning mysore my anxiety level rose. What the heck was I doing at yoga when I had a cake to bake? The opposite feeling (I can't skip yoga to bake a cake) consumed me as I dragged my sleepy bum to our freezing cold car an hour earlier. Happily I have a sweet husband who arranged to pick up Violet after work so I could rush home and bake a second cake to take to an early dinner with my parents.

I was too nervous to give Nigella's recipe a second chance so I went to the tried and true repository of all things British - the BBC website, and found a recipe for a traditional Victoria Sponge. It was almost the same as the one I attempted the night before, but I had faith in the british public service. They did not disappoint.

I made a couple of adjustments to this recipe including adding the zest of one lemon to the cake batter and replacing the jam with lemon curd (we tried the PC Black Label and Mr. Weston did not let me down). The cake ended up being quite pretty and very well received by the party guests (read: my family) after all. Personally I like a more moist lemon cake: one with a sticky, syrupy top and a damp texture throughout but I think this cake is an elegant choice, it is understated and refined. It is not overly sweet and would be perfect with a hot cup of tea, which is exactly how the the birthday girl and I enjoyed it.



  1. Thanks Ames - I got it for the wedding. The table cloth is my favourite part, Jayme bought it for me in France and gave it to me as a wedding gift. I won't ever let anyone use it! It is the softest pink.