Slowly but surely, we’re getting better at everything we do. But what’s life without a lovely piece of cake? And why didn’t we ask our mums to show us how to make one ourselves, instead of having to wait for the next farmers’ market?
We turn to the goddess of buttercream, Laura’s Little Bakery’s Laura O’Connor to share the magic, and show us the seven steps to the perfect Victoria Sponge (step 8 being ‘lick out the bowl’ of course).
The key to any good cake is not to skimp on the quality of your ingredients. I would heartily recommend a good quality self raising flour like McDougals and Kerry Gold or country life butter, free range eggs and Hartley’s strawberry jam.
Find the best recipe! You can’t go wrong the classic 4x4x4x2 which is 4oz flour, butter and sugar then 2 eggs. Double these quantities for a 9″ cake. I also add a teaspoon of baking powder for good measure!
So you have quality ingredients and a tried & tested recipe, now you need equipment! I am the very proud owner of two Kitchen Aids (I apologise for bragging), but when I began baking cakes I used nothing more than a humble £5 electric hand mixer from Argos. Believe me, this will suffice. You’ll also need a spatula, two 9″ cake tins, measuring spoons, scales, baking parchment with which to line the tins, a sieve if you feel the need to sift your flour (which I never do) and shed load of willpower not to lick the entire bowl out!
Now to look at technique and temperature. Cake making is all about exact amounts and good technique! Weigh the ingredients to the nth degree and follow the recipe instructions to the letter. If you do this, a Victoria sponge cake is fairly simple and almost impossible to ruin. Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy and lighter in colour, then add in the eggs until they’re completely incorporated. Sift in your flour & add a teaspoon of baking powder for good measure.
This process should take about 5 minutes; granted, this is coming from a woman who’s baked a LOT of cakes in the space of the last two years, but this really is a quick recipe and shouldn’t cause too many problems, fingers crossed!
A quick note on oven temperature: buy an oven thermometer! I cannot stress that enough; you need to have the oven at EXACTLY correct temperature and most ovens tend to be inaccurate in my experience. Also, be sure to set an alarm; if you over-bake the cake it will become dry. Never assume you’ll just know when its done, perfect cakes require many elements to come out just right! Temperature should be 160 degrees. Check the cake after 30 minutes (I can tell by just touching the cake if its done, but I would advise most people to use a skewer, if it comes out clean its done! If not leave it for a few more minutes and try again!)
Be patient. The cake needs some time to cool before you smother it in delicious vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam
The buttercream: 130g good quality butter, 350g icing sugar, 1tbsp milk, 2 tbsp cream 1tsp vanilla extract! Cream butter first then whack everything else in and mix well till fluffy!