My Dad makes the best sponge cake. He’s fastidious and knows how to follow a recipe, always getting his measurements, cake tin size and liner just right. This is essential for creating a perfect sponge. The decoration is entirely his own creation and has become a family tradition.
He likes to try different recipes. His current favourite is Felicity Cloake’s Victoria Sponge recipe, in which she used the old fashioned W.I., method of weighing the eggs, and feels he is getting better results.
He and I both favour salted butter, for both the sponge and the buttercream, which gives much more flavour sandwiched with blackberry jam - which I adore. You could use whipped double cream and jam, or fresh strawberries if you prefer.
I would emphasise the absolute importance of having room temperature eggs and really soft butter at all times.
3 large eggs weighed in their shells
The same weight accordingly of softened salted butter, caster sugar and self raising flour
2 tbsps milk
A pinch of salt
For the Buttercream:
100g softened salted butter
200g sifted icing sugar
50ml double cream
5 tablespoons of blackberry or raspberry jam
Icing sugar, and letter of celebrant cut out of card, to decorate
Grease and line the bases of two 21cm sandwich tins. Pre-heat oven to 160 C fan, especially if your oven runs very hot, or 180C for a conventional oven.
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and using electric whisks, or a food mixer, beat until light and really fluffy. Scrape down the sides, beat the eggs together and add to the mixture a little at a time. You want to avoid the mixture curdling. If it does look in danger of doing so you can add a spoonful of sifted flour to help stabilise the mixture. Scrape the sides down again to make sure that everything is mixed in properly. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt then add enough milk so that the mixture drops easily off a spoon but does not run off. Divide equally between the tins – a good spatula is good for this job to get all the mixture out of the bowl. Smooth the tops and put in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and well risen; a skewer inserted should come out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for ten minutes before attempting to turn them out on a rack to cool completely.
Make the buttercream by beating the butter until light and fluffy, then adding the sugar and cream. Beat together well then set aside until the cakes are cool.
To assemble the cake, put the ‘wonkiest’ sponge on a pretty plate and spread generously with jam - I find a palette knife is good for this. Paddle the jam back and forth, from the middle outward, turning the plate around all the time. Top with a layer of buttercream, then place the second sponge on top. For the decoration, cut out a template of the celebrant’s main initial and lay it in the middle of the cake. If it stands proud, just stick it down with a little smear of jam. Sprinkle the icing sugar, through a sieve, over the top of the cake, remove the template and add candles.