So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the Great British Bake Off returned to our screens last week. And in honour of the Queen of Baking herself, Mary Berry, our resident chef decided to try out her recipe for the classic Victoria sponge cake. And as you can imagine, everyone in the office was very excited, as you would be hard pressed to find a cake that’s more popular or more delicious than this.
The perfect Victoria Sponge
A quintessential English afternoon tea time treat, it is claimed that this simple yet delicious cake was a favourite of Queen Victoria. According to the Women’s Institute, an authentic Victoria sponge cake consists of a sponge cake sandwiched together with raspberry jam and dusted on the top with caster sugar, and is made with eggs, flour, sugar and butter which should be of equal weight (the eggs are weighed in their shells).
While there’s no debate about the basic ingredients, what makes up the filling is a hot topic. Should it be filled with strawberry or raspberry jam? Should there be butter cream or whipped cream as well as jam? Do you dust with icing sugar or caster sugar? And although the WI claims that an authentic cake is one with raspberry jam and sprinkled with caster sugar, is it worth being too purist?
This certainly caused a divide in the office, with some members of the team preferring simply jam as a filling, while others felt that butter cream or cream filling was required to round the cake off. But whatever you choose to fill you cake, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Because any homemade creation of this classic cake is guaranteed to be fit for a Queen.
Mary Berry’s perfect Victoria sponge – makes 12 slices
4 free range eggs.
225g/8oz Silver Spoon caster sugar.
225g/8oz McDougalls self-raising flour.
2tsp Dr. Oetker baking powder.
225g/8oz Stork baking spread, margarine or soft butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins.
To serve: Wilkin & Sons strawberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins. Use a piece of baking paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper. Simply draw around the base of the tin onto paper and cut out.
- Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and butter/baking spread.
- Mix everything together until well combined, using an electric hand mixer or a wooden spoon.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Use a spatula to remove all the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
- Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking.
- The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch.
- Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for five minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Set aside to cool completely.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a plate and spread it with plenty of jam. Top with the second cake, top-side up. Sprinkle over caster sugar or icing sugar.
And the verdict in the office? Well after an unusually quiet time while everyone was eating, the entire cake was soon demolished. And our resident chef quickly became the favourite person in the office!
For the full recipe and some useful ‘how-to’ videos, head to BBC Food.
Have you tried making a Victoria Sponge in honour of Bake Off? Head to our Facebook page to share your pictures, or feel free to comment below.