Eid-ul-Adha or Baqra-Eid is just around the corner, and it usually means a lot of meat. I am sure that everyone must be facing an excess of recipes all focusing on meat as the main course, so contrary to the norm I decided to post about dessert, specifically a quintessential British classic – the Victorian Sponge.
This delicate sponge cake filled with jam and cream was named after Queen Victoria, who used to favour a slice with her afternoon tea. Though it may pale in comparison to the chocolate cakes that are so popular nowadays, its simplicity is what makes it perfect, not just as a snack for evening tea but also as a delicious dessert to end a party.
175 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175 g caster sugar (ground the local granulated sugar for about 30 seconds in a spice till the texture is fine)
3 eggs(approx. 175 g) – room temperature
175 g self-raising flour (1 cup flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp = 1 cup self-raising flour)
3 tbsp whole milk
Note: Caster sugar can be purchased from the supermarket for convenience, however, it can easily be substituted with local sugar ground in a spice mill/grinder. Make sure the grinder is clean, and does not have any residues of local spices, else the sugar will be flavored accordingly. Icing sugar/Confectioners is NOT a substitute as icing sugar is ground much more finely and also has cornstarch in it.
Cream – 1 cup/200 grams
Icing Sugar – 2 tbsp, plus extra to dust (can be increased depending on taste)
Vanilla essence (optional)
Strawberry Jam – 4-5 tbsp
1. Grease 2 9-inch round baking papers with butter. Line with parchment/baking paper and grease with butter properly. Alternatively one 9 inch round pan can be used to make one cake adjusting the baking time accordingly. The cake would then need to be cut into two equal halves.
2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
3. Put the butter in a bowl with the sugar and beat together until really light and fluffy.
4. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after every addition then sift over the flour. Fold in gently with a spatula or metal spoon to combine.
5. Fold in enough milk to give a smooth ‘dropping’ consistency.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins – use weighing scale if you have it. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Only test one cake for this so that the top of the cake does not have holes in it.
7. Allow to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes (5 minutes under a full speed fan), then turn out onto a wire rack thats covered with a cotton tea towel/clean cloth to prevent marking. Carefully turn the cake over, removing the tea towel/clean cloth and allow to cool completely. The two halves can also be stored properly covered in the refrigerator for about 2 days and at least a month in the freezer. It is also a good idea to put the cakes in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes in our hot weather since that will make it much more easier to top with cream.
8. Once cool, place the skewered half, bottom side up, on a cake stand and top with whipped cream. Leave about 1/2 inch space at the edges since the cream will spread when the top layer is put on the cream.Spread the cream with the strawberry jam.
9. Top with the other cake half, bottom down, then sprinkle with caster sugar before serving.
Note: Please be careful when topping it with the other half because as is obvious from my picture, it can’t be moved once it sticks to the cream. It will still taste great :), but the cream will melt & leak out after a while.
In a large bowl, start whipping cream on slow speed with a whisk or hand-held mixer. Increase the speed & keep whisking until stiff peaks are just about to form. Mix in sugar & vanilla essence (optional) until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, as cream might separate and become lumpy and butter-like.
Note: Cream whips better if the utensils are cold, & cream is also refrigerated instead of room temperature. I keep the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, and make sure I am as far away from the stove as possible.
1. Any other flavor of jam can be substituted for strawberry, however, it would be best to substitute with a dark-colored jam to provide contrast.
2. The sponge cake tastes so light & fluffy on its own, that is desired, it can easily be eaten on its own without any filling.
3. The sponge cake can also be used as the basis for a trifle or similar dessert.
4. Lastly, another type of filling that will go great with the sponge cake is a vanilla flavored pastry cream.