As well as sharing the recipe for what has to be the most popular cake in our house, today I want to talk about food blogger pressure. First week back in England, I had a simply terrible day in the kitchen. Basically the only thing that went right was the final blast at my Lavender Vodka Lemonade. I got really stressed out, and while at the time I put it up to being in a kitchen I have not cooked in for a long while and being out of practice, now I've had a week or so to calm down a bit, I've realised it was something else. The problem with the internet; all these food blogs, Pinterest is it puts people who post their recipes online under so much pressure to perform. It was okay in the days when there were just cooking shows and professionally put together magazines and cookbooks to aspire to, because it was okay for the rest of us not to have to produce creations up to their standard. But food bloggers, while many of them are actually trained chefs, food photographers and stylists, too many of them are just like you and me. There is just too much pressure to product the best photos, best looking bake that we forget all about the actual food.
So, why have I chosen to talk about this in the introduction to a Victoria Sponge Sandwich recipe? I actually have something to admit here. While some of the recipes on this blog, such as my Hot King Prawns In Garlic Butter and my Easy Lunchtime Bruchetta are collaborations that I have put together with my Father, the only hand I had in baking the cake you see before you is I measured out the flour. I don't feel guilty sharing it with you, as it is super easy and delicious, as I have made it for countless family afternoon teas with just the three of us, or for friends or for big family events countless times before. The reason my Mummy baked this cake in the photo and not me? Because I felt I need to step back and remember that baking is something I can actually do, regardless of whose kitchen I'm in, and remember why I cook and bake in the first place, and stop worrying about how many times a particular recipe may get Tweeted, shared or Repinned. I also don't feel guilty that she baked it because it is her own recipe. Well, it is pretty similar to many other traditional recipes out there, because it is how she has always made it.
- 170g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour
- 170g (6 oz) Caster (Granulated) Sugar
- 170g (6 oz) Margarine
- 3 Large Eggs
- Hot Water
- 110 g (4 oz) Icing Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)
- 55g (2 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
- Vanilla Extract
- Homemade or Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 Fahrenheit). Lightly grease two 6 1/2 inch sandwich tins with a little butter or margarine and place a small circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each one. I know this might fall on deaf ears, but my American readers, please I implore of you not to use cooking spray. It may be safe to eat, but it does not necessarily mean you should. Beat together the caster sugar and margarine until it is all combined and it has lightened in colour. Whisk the eggs together in a jug and gradually, bit my bit beat the beaten eggs into the sugar and margarine until the mixture is smooth. If it looks like it may have curdled (how milk looks like when it has gone off), don't panic. Just add a teaspoon of your measured out flour and it should come good. Add a splash of vanilla. Sieve the flour into the bowl and fold it into the mixture. Folding is essentially drawing the spoon down the middle of the bowl as if cutting the mixture, and bringing it, scooping mixture up around the edge of the bowl up to the top again, then repeating until all the flour is combined. Doing this instead of just mixing the flour in ensures the air from beating stays in your cake so you will achieve the lightest sponge as possible. Equally divide the cake mix between the two tins, using a spatula to make sure the tops are even and flat (so you have an even bake) and all the mixture is pushed right to the edge of your tin. Tap each tin firmly on your work surface a few times to make sure you have no air bubbles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown, spring back lightly to the touch and you should be able to insert a cake tester or a cocktail stick into your sponge and it to come away clean. So your sponge does not sink when it is coming out the oven make sure all your kitchen doors are closed so you can keep a constant temperature until the cake is out of its tin. As soon as you have removed it from the oven gently run a very sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the cake to make sure it does not stick to the sides. The sponge should spring back slightly as it cools. Choose the better looking sponge to be your top. Turn this one out of the tin by placing your hand over the top, turning it upside down, pulling off the tin and the paper and putting it back down on a wire cooling rack, top side up. Place do the dame but place the bottom layer of your sandwich top side down. Allow to cool while you make the butter icing.
Butter icing is so stupidly simple. Lots of recipes use milk to get it creamier, but by omitting it your cake will last longer, and you should not really need it if you are using really good quality butter. Your butter needs to be room temperature and all you need to do is beat the icing sugar into it with a splash of vanilla until smooth. To fill your cake (I've recommend you do this on the plate or stand you are going to be serving it on) smooth the butter icing almost to the edge of the bottom half (it will spread out when sandwiched) and as much jam as you fancy on the bottom of your lid, then carefully flip and sandwich them together. You can just leave it like that, or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. We personally like to use vanilla sugar.
Once you've got this cake down you can do practically anything with it; we like it as a family with buttercream and raspberry, but you can use any jam you like, or fresh stiff whipping cream, with jam or fresh berries. Serve with a tall glass of my Lavender Vodka Lemonade or my Summer Iced Tea, and enjoy an extra special afternoon tea!