Sunday, 10 July 2011

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies – Classic Victoria sponge…with buttercream

Time for another episode of "Famous Faces' Favourite Fancies". I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive a reply from Julie Walters, and I was even more thrilled that she chose the queen of cakes, a Victoria sponge.

Julie Walters – a bona fide National Treasure – needs no introduction from me. If you need any reminder of her work she is (depending on your age, geographic location etc):
  • Mrs Overall in Acorn Antiques (I can still never say the word “macaroons” without turning it into a Mrs O impression);
  • Pauline Mole aka Adrian Mole’s mum;
  • Rita in Educating Rita (one of my all time favourite films);
  • Ron Weasley’s mum in the Harry Potter films;
  • Annie, one of the naughty WI ladies in Calendar Girls (I can’t advocate using cakes that way!);
  • Billy Elliot’s dance teacher in…er…Billy Elliot;
  • Rosie in Mamma Mia.

A classic victoria sponge has two key elements. Firstly, the weight of the ingredients is determined by the weight of the eggs in their shells. Secondly, it must be sandwiched only with jam – no cream or buttercream. It was with the second point that I hit a snag; when I told Mr CC I was making a classic victoria sponge thus could only use jam he said quietly, in a wounded puppy kind of way, “but I like buttercream”. To cut a long story short (if it isn’t already too late) – my classic victoria sponge now has added buttercream. I know this means it can’t be deemed a classic victoria sponge…so feel free to omit it if you’re more of a purist than me.

It did feel weird weighing the eggs in their shells and then using this measurement for all the other ingredients, but if it’s good enough for Mrs Beeton it’s good enough for me!

The sponge was different to the more modern sponge recipes with prescribed quantities; it was richer, more buttery, yellower and had a moist rather than crumbly texture.

Here’s my top tip for transporting a sandwich cake; I have found that – in transit – the top layer can slide off the buttercream filling making a bit of a mess. By wrapping the cake in a collar of baking paper it holds everything in place. I think I might start wearing a collar of baking paper...

My nephew, The Boy Wonder, has a lovely dog called Monty. He’s in late puppyhood and is about to celebrate his first birthday. We offered him some sponge (the first cake he’s ever had) to see what he thought; here he is inspecting it...

...before deciding that it really was pretty tasty stuff:

Finally, if you want to see a masterclass in comic timing from Julie Walters then please watch this classic sketch from “Victoria Wood as Seen on TV”. It has entered our family language as a description of when it’s difficult to walk i.e. “my back was so sore and stiff I was walking like Two Soups.”


For the sponge:
4 eggs - the weight of which will determine your quantity of butter, sugar and flour
Unsalted butter, at room temperature
Caster sugar
Self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
A little milk, if necessary

For the buttercream, if using:
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To assemble the cake:
Raspberry jam
Icing sugar or caster sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/fan oven 160˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm sandwich cake tins with baking paper; just to be sure, I line the base and sides of the tin.

Weigh the eggs in their shells – this will tell you the weight for the butter, sugar and flour. Mine weighed 267 grams.

Whatever the weight of your eggs (in their shells) weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour.

Beat the butter until it is light and whippy, then beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage as it’s the key way of getting air into your sponge.

Beat in the eggs one at a time; if you whipped the butter and sugar enough there shouldn’t be any curdling, but if there is add some of the flour to correct it.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour.

If the batter is thick and won’t easily drop from the mixing spoon, fold in a tablespoon of milk. It may need a further tablespoon. Add enough milk to reach “dropping consistency”.

Spoon the batter into the prepared sandwich tins and gently smooth the tops with a knife.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until it is light and whippy. It will start to look almost like whipped cream.

Add the icing sugar and beat until soft, light and airy looking.

Add the vanilla and beat again.

To assemble the cake turn one of the sponges upside down on the serving plate, so the flat surface is uppermost.

Spread the buttercream over the sponge.

Take the other layer of sponge and generously spread the flat side with jam.

Place the jammy sponge, flat side down on top of the buttercream and press gently to ensure the layers have stuck.

Dust the surface with icing sugar or caster sugar before serving.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.



Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

interesting recipe! Love that such a classic recipe is loved by such a classic lady! x

Kate@katescakesandbakes said...

I'm well impressed you're penpals with a National Treasure! Lovely, lovely Victoria Sponge recipe- I must give it a go, mine last attempt was as flat as a frisbee. Useful as a toy, but not as afternoon tea.

LandGirl1980 said...

This is truely the most monumental Vicky Sponge I have EVER seen!!! It is one of my favourite cakes - so I shall certainly be trying your recipe! :)

Cakelaw said...

How lovely! I am glad that Julie chose the queen of cakes. Love Monty!

At Anna's kitchen table said...

How lovely that you got a reply from Julie Walters!! Excellent!

The Glamorous Gourmet said...

That is so fabulous you heard back from her and this Classic Victoria Sponge looks divine! I wish I had a piece in front of me riiight now - Cheers!

YONKS said...

A great tip on weighing the eggs. I will remember that one!
Looks YUMMY - Thanks :-)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

What a great classic! Your cake looks very me a piece?

Victoria said...

that is one tallllllll sponge! looks amazing! :)

Lauraelizabeth said...

That looks amazing. I could do with a big slice of that now! x

Maggie said...

I am not at all surprised that Julie Walters replied to you. It's because she is from the West Midlands!
Fab cake that she has chosen.

Lucy said...

A reply from Julie Walters? That's amazing! The cake looks amazing too :)

Gloria said...

This Victoria Sponge look absolutely delicious, love this post! gloria

Patty O. said...

I love Julie Walters! And I love Victoria sponge, though I have only had it once. Not a very common cake in the US, unfortunately....

Jacqueline said...

Wow, I am amazed by this recipe. Never heard anything like it before, but just look at that cake, it is amazing. I love your series and you will forgive me for saying this is the cherry on top of the cake. Julie Walters is a legend.

Jacqueline said...

Oh and as far as I am concerned, there must be cream or buttercream.

Jo said...

I'm loving these posts, I hope you get more replies from celebrities. What a good choice Julie! Your cake looks seriously amazing, nicer than the last one I made. It just didn't rise well for some reason. I must admit I don't mind if a bit of cream or buttercream sneaks into a victoria sponge!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful cake! We've been making our cakes by weighing the eggs in their shells for ages. Makes it so much easier when eggs come in so many different sizes these days. I always add a tsp of baking powder--but your cake rose so beautifully, it wasn't needed.

C said...

Looks beautifully moist. I quite like buttercream in a Victoria sponge too.

My mum often says that her favourite cake is a simple victoria sponge, and sometimes simplicity is definitely beautiful!

I love your idea for transporting layer cakes too - going to steal that for sure, inspired!

Made With Pink said...

This cake looks delicious! I love the height on it! I've become quite fond of the Victoria Sponge since moving here.

cupcake chef x said...

One of my faveourite cakes. It reminds me of summer and my grandmothers Mrs.Beton books.

Baking Addict said...

I just made a victoria sponge yesterday but I used cream, strawberries and jam. I must try weighing my eggs next time. Your cake looks amazing. Thanks for the tip about transporting sandwich cakes. The top of my cake slid off making a mess with the cream!

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