Good old Victoria

Why do we bake? It's a question I've been thinking about recently. Is it because it makes us feel good, giving food to others? Is it because it can be cheaper (and healthier) than buying ready-made cakes? Or is it simply because we like the taste of the buttery delights which come out of the oven? 

Baking is a hobby which i know many people love. It's relaxing - if it goes well - and there's always a good end product. I think that if you begin to feel too stressed about something, you shouldn't do it; it becomes a chore, not a fun and exciting thing to do. If you worry too much then all the joy goes out of it and you will only feel relieved at the end. 

Whilst it's fun to experiment and try different types of cakes and biscuits, sometimes it's best to stick with the simple things - such as this. The Victoria Sponge was the first cake I ever made by myself, without any help - and I made it by hand too, creaming the butter and sugar together for a good half-hour until my wrist ached. However, when the golden, moist sponge came out of the oven, it was all worth it; even more so when I saw how my family's faces lit up upon the first bite. 

There is some debate as to whether butter or margarine is best for this cake. Here, I've used a good quality baking margarine, simply to make the creaming process easier; but I discovered that the sugar crystals still need a lot of beating before they agree to disappear! Whether you beat it by hand or by using a food mixer, make sure your butter is nice and soft and beat it until it is creamy and fluffy, until it turns a pale yellow. 

Try to take your eggs out of the fridge about half and hour before you want to bake - this will reduce the risk of curdling the mixture. However, if that happens, just add a little of the measured flour and beat well until it returns to the normal texture.

Once you have a basic sponge, you can experiment and flavour it with cocoa powder, lemon, coffee… You can fill it however you like, too - try a flavoured buttercream or even fresh cream if it will be eaten on the day. 

Above all, make this cake with love.

Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together.

Whisk the eggs together, so you can add as much or as little as you want at a time.

Add them to the mixture slowly. Mine curdled a little here!

Add in the flour; don't forget the baking powder, as I did! Fold it in gently.

Pour into tins.

And bake!

I stuck with traditional buttercream and raspberry jam. 

How to sandwich successfully!

Victoria Sponge Cake
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
175g (6oz) soft unsalted butter or baking margarine 
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 medium-sized eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling of your choice (I used vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam)
Icing sugar, to dust

1. Grease and line two 7-inch sandwich tins. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a spoon or a hand mixer. The mixture should be pale and fluffy.

3. Beat the eggs together and add to the mixture, a little at a time, mixing as you go. If it starts to curdle, add a little flour.

4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the batter.

5. Pour into the tins, level off and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden and they spring back if touched. 

6. Turn the cakes out of the tins and leave to cool. Once cool, fill with the desired filling and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a cup of tea and civilised conversation!