Recipe Book: Victoria Sponge

I sell a lot of cake and people really like eating cake. A Victoria Sponge is probably the most popular but it can be tricky to get it just right.
Here’s my recipe and method for Victoria Sponge. Once you get used to making the recipe, you can experiment with adding different flavours and combinations. It’s just a matter of mastering the basics.

Start with a tidy work surface, and leave eggs out until they’re at room temperature.

Weigh out the following ingredients:
225g margarine or butter (I use Utterly Butterly or Clover. I find butter a bit too heavy, but it’s up to you)
225g caster sugar
225g self raising flour, sifted (I only use Mungoswells flour, our local East Lothian flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted and added to the flour
4 medium eggs
25ml milk

Turn your oven to 170C (or the equivalent temp) and grease and line the baking tins you’re using. This recipe quantity will make 24 muffins, 36 fairy cakes, or 4 round 7inch/18cm baking tins.

You can use the all-in-one method for making this cake. Basically, you put everything in the mixing bowl and beat it up until it is well combined. You can ignore all the next steps if you use the all-in-one method. Personally I don’t have much success with the all-in-one method.

You can use a food processor, electric hand held beaters or a mixer for making this cake batter. If you’re really strong, you can use a hand whisk – it’ll just take you a lot longer (but on a plus side, you’ll have muscles like Popeye!).

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– place marg (or butter) and caster sugar into mixing bowl and mix until it’s pale, creamy and well combined.

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– add one tablespoon or dessert spoon of flour to the butter & sugar mixture. Mix in until combined.

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– leave the mixer on a low speed and crack one egg into the mixing bowl. Add another spoonful of flour, add another egg. Keep doing this until all the eggs are added. You’ll have at least half of the flour left, so gradually add this until it’s all combined. If you accidentally add bits of egg shell to the mix, don’t worry. They’ll either get ground up into the mix (nobody will notice), or they’ll fall to the bottom of the batter mixture and you can pick them out later. Alternatively, you can crack the eggs into a separate bowl and pour one in at at time between the flour spoonfuls.

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– pour in the milk and combine well. Your mixture should be well combined, not curdled, and hold its shape when you remove the beaters from the bowl.

– by this time, the oven should be at the right temp. Don’t waste all your hard work by putting your cake mix in a cold oven!

– a good rule of thumb for both muffin and fairy cake cases is to fill the paper cases 2/3 full. Tap the baking tray gently on the work surface to settle the batter and to release any air bubbles. If you’re using the mix to make cakes, carefully divide the batter equally between the cake tins. Using the back of a spoon, smooth the mixture out from the centre. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect – the batter will do most of the work in the hot oven.

– bake the muffins and fairy cakes for approx 12 minutes. They should be golden and well risen. Don’t open the oven door until it’s time to take them out. This is a great time to do the washing up, as your buns rise in the oven.

– if you’re making cakes, they’ll take about 5 minutes longer than muffins or fairy cakes. After 15 minutes keep an eye on the sponges. If you leave them too long in the oven, they’ll deflate and get over cooked and burnt around the edges. Again, you want them to be golden and well risen. I always feel like a contestant on the Great British Bake Off at this moment, hovering around the oven, waiting for them to be just right.

– take your trays of baked deliciousness out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. You can leave the sponges to cool in the tin if you upend them onto the wire rack (careful now!), but the muffins and fairy cakes are better left to cool out of the baking tray. I always cool them upside down on a wire rack.

– leave until completely cool before you ice, fill, decorate etc.. Don’t try to sample one until it’s cold as you’ll not get the full taste. Make icing or buttercream according to the instructions on the icing sugar box. If you’re making cakes, nothing beats fresh cream and fresh raspberries or strawberries.

I hope this has been helpful. Please leave any comments below.

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