Written by Claire Goodwin

Food

The Great British Sandwich Week Challenge Day #4: Victoria Sandwich

If the past three days’ worth of savoury sarnies have plunged your sweet tooth into a haze of withdrawal, GBBO 2014 contestant Claire Goodwin ventures off-message today, having decided it’s time for pud.

Victoria spongeWell! Here we are at day four. We have had bacon, black pudding, cheese and chilli; butties, rolls and quesadillas.

So, I think some afters are in order. Anyone for cake?

The Victoria Sandwich can be a baker’s nemesis. It is such a simple cake that it is so easy to get wrong. A traditional Victoria Sandwich is free of pomp and circumstance, and has the bare minimum of accoutrement to make it what it is. It is simply cake, jam and a sprinkle of caster sugar.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you can of course add whatever you want to the middle. Some people like fresh strawberries and cream, some people chocolate frosting (sacrilege), some people peanut butter (why, people, why?). But to do it correctly, and according to tradition, you need just three elements.

Now, the cake is obviously the most important part. And the measurements and method for a Victoria Sandwich are quibbled within baking circles. Some weigh the egg; some use eggs by quantity. Some throw everything in the bowl for the all-in-one method – famed of course by the lovely Mary Berry – and some use the creaming method.

For me, the rules for ingredients remain the way my Mum taught me, and it is something that I can do off by heart, in any quantity and for any shape of cake. *smugface*. But as I have said before, it is the precision with which you do it that makes the best bake. Your prep is also really important, so spend a bit of time lining your tins and getting your oven to temperature.

Victoria sponge collageLet’s cake!

Ingredients:

300g self-raising flour
300g butter
300g caster sugar (it has to be caster sugar), plus extra for sprinkling
6 medium eggs, whisked
Splash of vanilla essence – use something decent such as Nilsen’s or Kirkland
Jam, of your choice

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Grease and line two 18 cm (7 inch) standard cake tins. Line both the sides and the base with parchment or greaseproof paper; this will protect the edges of your cake from scorching and will also enable you to remove the cakes from the tins easily. If you are using shallow sandwich pans (2.5 cm/1 inch deep) then you will need to halve the ingredient quantities above.

3. Beat the butter and sugar together so that the mix is really pale and fluffy. If you think it is done, give it another five minutes; it won’t do any harm at this stage! This is getting air into your mix.

4. Add your whisked eggs a tiny bit at a time, really beating them into the sugar. This too incorporates air into the mixture and ensures a really even batter. If it starts to curdle a little, add a teaspoon of flour, though if it curdles, you are adding your eggs too quickly without adequate beating in between.

5. Add the flour. Sieve it in thirds into the mix. After each part, fold (making a figure of eight with your spoon) the flour in until it is incorporated evenly. You do not want to be mixing or whisking or beating vigorously at this point, as this overworks your glutens and makes your cake tough. It also knocks out some of the air and this will affect the rise.

6. Stir in your splash of vanilla essence.

7. Divide the mix between your two cake tins and smooth the tops off evenly with the back of a spoon.

8. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

9. When a skewer comes out clean, remove cakes from the oven and turn out on a cooling rack. Leave to cool before removing the greaseproof/parchment as otherwise you might tear chunks out of the cakes.

10. If you have humps in the cake, level off one of the cakes with a knife. This will be your base layer.

11. Put your base cake on the plate or stand you are using and top with jam – the quantity is entirely personal, but I like enough to give a wibble and slight ooze down the side.

12. Place your other cake on top and sprinkle with caster sugar.

13. Cut huge slabs and stuff it in your face.

Victoria sponge served@bake_therapist

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Written by Claire Goodwin

Claire is a speech therapist, baker, cake decorator, sometime radio guest and writer. She writes about food, being fat and living with mental health problems @bake_therapist; www.baketherapy.co.uk; www.facebook.com/CakeChemistryUK