Jammy Victoria Sponge

I'm sure you can imagine, as a lady that makes jams, I have a fairly good arsenal of jam-involved cakes. The ultimate of these - for effort/taste ratio - is the victoria sponge.

One cake, many oppertunities for variations. Name a jam, you can use it. Or fruit curd. Or flavour the cream - chocolate cream and marmalade in orange sponge has just come to me as I write this as an "oooooooh interesting" concept. Maybe next time, but this month we had a very basic sponge, after all we still had the raspberry conserve we used for the Eton mess.

The best basic sponge recipe I have found is Nigella's from "How to be a Domestic Goddess". The addition of the cornflour gives it good texture, and I love that its processor friendly. She says to only add the baking powder if using the food process to mix together, but I've added it anyway and it just makes it more poofy in my experience. 

For the cake:
225g unsalted butter
225g sugar. I use vanilla but you can use normal, or another flavour if being creative.
1 tsp vanilla extract, or other flavour as above.
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
25g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
3-4 tablespoons milk

If using the processor, add everything except the milk and pulse until its smooth, then add the milk slowly until you have looser batter, that will drop easily off a spoon. 

If not using a processor, its basically the same as any cake. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla extract, then the last off the dry ingredients. Then as before, once you have a nice batter, add the milk.

Put the batter into two sandwich tins, and bake at 180c/gass mark 4 for 25 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean. If you don't have two tins the same size, or hate washing up like me, you could use one tin and slice it in half, it just may take longer to bake.  Once done, leave for at least 10 minutes before turning out to cool totally.

Now... construction. I'm a cream, jam and fresh fruit girl. I'm also a clutz, so I have never manged the very beautiful sponges with fruit suspended in the cream, or artfully on top. Na, sod that. This is my foolproof method. Adjust as needed for what you are using.

Firstly, spread a nice layer of jam onto your bottom layer. Try and use a high fruit content jam that isn't a thick set. If its one you've made all the better! Take this as close to the edges as you like, but try and keep it neat eh? You want it nice and thick, think a really nice bit of toast - too thin you barely taste it, too think its a bit much, you want that mmmmm fruit taste to nicely complement the cream.

Next stage, fruit. just plonk it on there, pretty placement never lasts long. A few close to edge is nice but try not to get them too close. You don't want to have all the fruit fall out with you squidge down the top layer.

The third layer, the cream, is a delicate matter. You want to keep the white, well white. And the fruit where it is and not mixed in the cream. So you must put it on the other layer right? Na, course not!! 

Plonk a nice dollop of whipped cream into the centre of the cake, and then a few more at equal spaces around the central blob. KEEP THESE AWAY FROM THE EDGE. You want to keep a good couple of centimeters from the edge of the cake with the cream. Spread the blobs gently into each other. If you need more blobs of cream, go for it, but keep the layer of cream nice and thick.

I use a 300ml tub of double cream (whipped up obviously) for a cake - If I am decorating the top I put a bit less in the middle. Otherwise I use the whole thing. Yes it is a decadent cake, but if you are really worried whip the cream by hand, and imagine how many calories that really knackered arm burn off. And then of course, don't forget it does count as one of your five a day.....

Yes I am an enabler lol.

The final stage is the top layer. This is simple. Line up the top  and bottom as best you can, then place the top layer on gently. Use the palm of your (clean) hand in the centre of the cake to smoosh down, keeping an eye on the edges, until you have pushed the cream our as much as you like. A word of warning thou, the knife you cut with will also squish a bit so leave a bit of space for that. You don't want your cream to fall out do you?

But then you have it. Glorious sponge.

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