Sponge Cake – Easier Than I Thought!

by Amanda McInerney on 04/07/2014

While I’m reluctant to air all of my shortcomings as a cook – and there are quite a few, believe me – I’ve decided to come clean on something that I’ve felt a little guilty about for some time. I’ve waxed lyrical about the comforts and joys of baking before on this blog and I’ve been up front about my fondness for cake, but I’m lazy.

When I want cake, I want it quick and easy and so I always go for tried and true, never-fail recipes that I’m very confident with. I’m full of admiration for those who are prepared to take the time to turn out fiddly, richly detailed and decorated baked goods and am always happy to eat them, but am also happy to leave their creation to those others. I have very fond memories of the  light-as-air cream sponges and sponge kisses that my country-based aunts used to bake but, until very recently, my fear of failure has held me back from giving them a go myself. Until last weekend when, conjuring up the spirits of much-loved aunts passed, I baked my first ever sponges.

A little research led me to discover that sponges have been around in a written form since 1615 when a recipe was included in the book “The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman”, by Gervase Markham. (I’ll bet he was quite a catch.) I’m glad I have been able to correct what was clearly a serious flaw in my womanly composition.

As far as the traditional sponges that I remember go, there are two types – a batter sponge – sometimes called a Victoria Sponge – which contains a small amount of fat, and the foam sponge which doesn’t. It is the latter which are the heavenly, air-filled creations which my aunts turned out so easily, but I opted for the slightly less risky Victoria for my first effort.

My laziness resulted in disappointment with my first round of cakes. The sponges rose beautifully, and stayed up which was one of my worries, but I took a shortcut and greased but didn’t flour my pans. Subsequently my beautiful creations stayed firmly stuck. Lesson learned. Our hens didn’t seem to get the memo about cutting back on laying in winter, meaning we have a glut of eggs, so I was all good to go for round two.

It’s all about the air with a sponge so make sure you do at least three sifts with your flour and, unless you are looking for a serious workout, I’d forget about the whisk. Go straight for either the electric hand beaters or the stand mixer. Using the technology, this was surprisingly quick and easy and, now that I’ve jumped that particular psychological hurdle, I’ll be trying my hand at the more delicate foam sponge that my aunts did so very well, next time round. Stay tuned.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Victoria Sponge
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Sift, sift and sift again to ensure an airy success with this sponge.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake, baking
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 scant cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp hot water
  • 300 mls whipped cream
  • jam
  • strawberries
  • chocolate

Instructions
  1. Grease and flour 2 18 cm round cake pans.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C.
  3. Beat eggs and sugar together at high speed for 7-8 minutes. Add vanilla essence toward the end.
  4. Sift flour and salt together 3 times, then add to eggs. Mix well at low speed or fold in gently with a metal spoon.
  5. Melt the butter in the hot water and fold through the mixture.
  6. Pour evenly into the cake pans and bake for 20 minutes, when the cakes should be pulling away from the sides of the pans.
  7. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto racks.
  8. Fill with jam and whipped cream, top with more cream, fresh strawberries and grated chocolate.
  9. Bask in the love from those to whom you feed it.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) July 4, 2014 at 8:03 am

I’m not much of a baker myself but a good sponge – Victoria or otherwise – is hard to resist and one of the cakes I do make. This one looks gorgeous – congrats.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 4, 2014 at 8:33 am

Looking at these photos I’d never know you weren’t a star victoria sponge maker. It’s gorgeous.

Celia July 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

Will you look at that! What a magnificent first attempt! And big sigh on the cakes sticking – what did you do with the rejects? If you’ve saved them, I’ve got a recipe coming up on Sunday with something to do with them.. :)

Lizzy (Good Things) July 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

Well done you! I love a good sponge and yours looks divine!

InTolerant Chef July 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Good for you! I’m glad that you are now a Complete Woman :) Your sponge looks just gorgeous, you just need the cup of tea to have with it xox

Amanda McInerney July 4, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Thank you Bec. There should be some sort of badge for this!

Barb | Creative Culinary July 5, 2014 at 2:30 am

This looks nothing less than perfection from a seasoned pro…you definitely had it in you. I’m not familiar with sponge cake and am betting my foray would be more indicative of a beginner!

I think I must try this…why else do I have berries in the fridge?

Hotly Spiced July 5, 2014 at 7:40 am

I do hate it when a perfect cake gets stuck in a pan! I think your sponge cake turned out beautifully. Years ago, before I had children, I was determined to be able to make sponge cakes as well as the intimidating women at the CWA. I made so many sponge cakes and yes, the best results are always if you sift the flour at least three times to put the air into it before it’s added to the other ingredients. I haven’t made a sponge cake for a very long time but you’ve inspired me! xx

liz harfull July 5, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi Amanda. You might be interested in the hotwater variation. An amazing sponge from an old shearers cook at Hay that brought back the taste of my childhood. My mum who died just 2 weeks ago at the age of 89 was the local sponge queen – she bought a new Kenwood a year or two ago after her first chucked it in after more than 40 years and hundreds of sponges. She didnt seem to worry about half the rules people often fuss about and they worked pretty well every time. You might also be curious to know that in the world of show cooking victoria cake is not considered a sponge at all and you can find yourself in hot water if you call it one!

Amanda McInerney July 6, 2014 at 8:58 am

It’s okay Liz, I’m very confident that I won’t be treading the boards as a show cook any time soon!

Helen | Grab Your Fork July 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

omg glorious sponge! Sponge cake with cream is one of my favourite desserts in the world – your look spectacular, even if it did require a little test run first :)

Thalia @ butter and brioche July 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

your sponge cake turned out great! definitely will be trying this recipe, glad i came across your website. thanks for the inspiration!

Jamie July 10, 2014 at 11:25 pm

This post is really timely as I’ve been thinking about making a Victoria Sponge for the past month but didn’t get around to it before leaving for the US. Now I will and I might use your recipe. I to always turn to the same, tried and true, never-fail recipes but when I find a new one that doesn’t look much more difficult and definitely looks fabulous… well. You got me.

Lauren@thewellreadcookie July 16, 2014 at 9:21 am

This is gorgeous! Love your blog :) I’m heading to the blue mountains this weekend for a girl’s gathering… I feel this sponge would be totally justified!!

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