Victoria Sponge Cake

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Well, it’s Mother’s Day and I bit the bullet and faced one of my last few remaining culinary fears – sponge cake. All previous attempts have been total duds, but ever ready to face failure head on, I crossed my fingers and tried again. I took this recipe from one of New Zealand’s Master Chef winners – Chelsea Winter – who assured her readers that if we’d previously been undone by sponges, to try this one out. It’s not the light, airy sponge variety, but a denser, more buttery traditional Victoria sponge (or Victoria sandwich).

Well, my attempt might not have been perfect, but it came pretty darn close (I think it could have been a touch lighter) and I was rapt. What I particularly liked about this recipe is that it moved beyond the usual jam and cream filling and went instead with a much more sophisticated pairing of mascarpone cream and raspberry/rhubarb compote (which, in my opinion, totally made this cake). Hey, and guess what? It didn’t all squish out when I cut the cake – it held it’s own remarkably well.

I’m so glad I found this recipe and I’m sure I’ll be trying it again in the future. Next time I’m going to make one change to the method – when it comes to adding the flour, baking flour and milk, I’m going to go the tried and true route and fold it in as opposed to beating it in, as this recipe calls for. I imagine it just might give me the lighter texture I’m after.

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VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE (with Rhubarb/Raspberry Compote & Mascarpone Cream)

Serves 10-12

Ingredients (Click here for unit converter)

Sponge:

  • 300g butter, softened slightly
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)

Rhubarb & raspberry compote:

  • 400-500g rhubarb stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Small pinch of salt

Mascarpone cream:

  • 200g mascarpone
  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup cream, whipped
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or scrape seeds out of 2 vanilla pods)

To garnish:

  • Icing sugar

Method

  1. For the sponge: Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease and line 2 x 22cm diameter cake tins (I used 2 x 20cm tins).
  2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy (ensure the butter is room temperature and beat for around 5 minutes). Add the vanilla and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about a minute after each egg is added.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture, and add the milk. Gently beat until everything is just incorporated, but don’t over-beat. Divide the batter evenly between the two tins – don’t worry too much about getting the top level, as it levels out in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes (in my oven, it took 40) or until the sides pull away slightly from the tin, the cakes are golden brown in colour and springy to the touch, and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  5. For the compote: Put all the ingredients into a large pot and simmer over a medium heat for around 15 minutes or until it’s thick. Leave to cool in a bowl – it will thicken as it cools (I put mine into the freezer for a while as I was in a hurry).
  6. For the mascarpone cream: Beat the icing sugar and mascarpone until thick, then fold in the whipped cream.
  7. To assemble: Place one of the cooled cakes on a platter (if the sponge is domed, you may need to trim off some of the sponge to make it flat). Spread on the compote (you won’t need it all) then carefully dollop on the mascarpone cream (you probably won’t need all of this either, though you can add more to the top of the cake if you like). Carefully place the remaining sponge on top and dust with icing sugar.

Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Top image – Canon 18-55mm lens; Bottom image – Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting

 

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