Friday, 22 June 2012

Cake Etiquette and a Victoria Sponge Recipe

Victoria Sponge

"Rachel, you know about cakes. What about cake etiquette?"

Thus began one of the more surreal food-related conversations to which I've been a part. I asked for clarification, and it transpired that the particular issue of etiquette under consideration was the kind of cake one should serve to a peer of the realm. My friends had a Baroness visiting them for afternoon tea, and were feeling uncertain about what to offer her.

Having first noted how seldom I have to worry about such things in the regular course of events, I wasn't going to let lack of experience stand in the way of giving advice.

"You could go for the supremely traditional, and make a Victoria sponge," I suggested. "Or for something more contemporary, maybe serve a selection of cake canapes."

They went for the modern option, and made miniatures... and the Baroness chose a mini Victoria sponge.

So there you have it: Victoria Sponge, still the cake of choice for British aristocrats.

Victoria Sponge slice

Classic Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe
Serves 8

For the cake:
6oz (165g) butter
6oz (165g) caster sugar
3 eggs
6oz (165g) self-raising flour
¼tsp baking powder
¼tsp vanilla essence

For the filling:
2oz (55g) butter
4oz (110g) icing sugar
½tsp vanilla essence
6oz (165g) fresh strawberries

Extra icing sugar for dusting
  1. Line two 6in (15cm) cake tins with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F)
  2. Cream butter and sugar together with the back of a spoon.
  3. Add the vanilla essence, then add the eggs one by one, whisking until combined.
  4. Beat the mixture until light and bubbly (I use a hand whisk as my electric one is too powerful).
  5. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, until fully combined.
  6. Divide the cake mix between the two cake tins (you can weigh it out if you're not comfortable doing this by eye).
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the surface is springy and a knife comes out clean, then remove from the tins to cool on a wire rack.
  8. To make the buttercream, whip the butter until soft, add the vanilla essence, then cream in the icing sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
  9. Wash the strawberries, pat dry, and cut into halves.
  10. Once the cakes have cooled, spread buttercream across the top of one cake. (You can slice the top first to level it if it's extremely uneven, but buttercream will cover a multitude of sins.)
  11. Arrange the strawberries on top of the cream (see image below) and then place the second cake on top.
  12. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar before serving.
For a bit of variety (or depending on what you have in the cupboard), you could use thick whipped cream instead of buttercream, and/or substitute jam for the fresh strawberries.

Victoria Sponge construction


Rachel said...

Goodness, what a conversation to be having. I like the idea of cake canap├ęs!

rosaria williams said...

I had no idea that there is such a thing as cake etiquette!

Isra said...

I wish I was a fly on that wall! What a lovely conversation to be having!

christine said...

Mmm, delicious:) Just goes to show, traditional cakes are traditional for a reason - folks like them! Such conversation should appear in a book:)

Dave King said...

Would have been wonderful once - too much sugar now! Ah, well...

Jennifer Cluff said...

Oh, this looks soooo good! Perfect time of year to enjoy with all the fresh berries :) Thanks for sharing.

becky said...

like strawberry shortcake in the USA :) the baroness has good taste

Annmarie Pipa said...

I would not have any idea what to serve a Baroness!!..that looks like a great choice!!

Anonymous said...

You are having a very cool conversation! You know what Baronesses want & love! Good for you & us!

This classic filled sponge cake with tasty filling looks grand & elegant too! :)

A Cuban In London said...

Victoria Sponge is always a winner, no matter what. I think my wife has already used that recipe once and the result was scrumptious.

Greetings from London.

Anonymous said...

hi how many people would this cake feed?

Lydia Filgueras said...

I had no idea there was such a thing as cake etiquette but I love a good sponge cake. The cake plate is lovely :)

Jenne said...

Strawberries! Perfect time of year for this and tea.

Nicky Omohundro said...

Beautiful cake, I like the strawberries in the filling. I'm not sure that I will ever entertain aristocrats, but I'd love it.

Joanne said...

So yummy! That looks moist and delicious!

Anonymous said...

What a cool fork! Haha, I mean the cake looks delicious/amazing/lovely too, but is that fork half knife? What is it called exactly?

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