Last weekend I wanted to bake a cake for friends who were due to come round. I’m sure like many food bloggers, we’re just looking for an excuse to bake anything so we have guilt-free content for the blog. Baking lots of cake can be very bad for the waist-line and worse for the environment if nobody’s going to eat it. So now I tend to wait until I know we have friends coming. The only issue is that neither The Viking or I have any cake-tolerance. If there’s cake in the house it shall be eaten, especially if it’s relatively warm out of the oven… and i’m not just talking one or two slices here. It’s been known that a cake has been baked and devoured all in one afternoon. We both favour a simple bake too, so a Victoria Sponge like this blueberry and orange zest one is a deadly weapon to us, made even more deadly last weekend because as it happens our friends didn’t turn up… but somehow the cake was gone by the end of the day.
blueberry and orange zest victoria sponge
So this particular bake is a celebration of simple, fresh ingredients. I love those fancy cakes, dripping in ganache with icing so thick you could grout the bathroom with it, layers packed with unusual and sometimes dubious flavours but sometimes a simple vanilla sponge is the only way. A classic victoria sponge cake with a delicate twist of grated orange zest that lifts it up even lighter, served with a stunning home-made raspberry jam and some fresh blueberries… what more could anyone want?
a note on method and ingredients: I’m baking using the ‘weigh-the-eggs’ method which I always find delivers a perfect sponge. You weigh the 3 eggs in their shells and then use an equal quantity of butter, sugar and flour. It makes it so easy to work out your ingredients and a great way to teach cake novices how to bake. I find that for a classic victoria sponge, 3 large free-range eggs always works well and I use golden caster sugar as I love the lighter texture is brings to the cake. I’m using my lovely smeg stand mixer but you can easily use a hand-held electric whisk or even a wooden spoon, it just takes slightly longer. I’m creaming the butter and sugar to start as I find you get a lighter cake, I’ve also tried this cake as an all-in-one and it works perfectly well just to beat everything together in a bowl but you’ll find the texture of the cake just slightly denser.
pre-heat your oven to 170C fan and grease and line 2 x 18cm round, loose-bottomed cake tins
- 3 large free-range eggs – beaten together lightly
- 240g butter – soft / room temperature
- 240g golden caster sugar
- 240g self-raising flour
- the finely grated zest of one orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste from Nielsen-Massey
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or milk
- raspberry jam
- 150g fresh blueberry
in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy – this takes roughly 7 minutes in a stand mixer on medium high and 10 minutes by hand
add 1/3 of the beaten egg and 1/3 of the flour and beat in using a more gentle power, then add the vanilla and grated orange zest and beat in gently, followed by the remaining flour and egg mix
at this stage I always add a little milk or if I have it, some sour cream works really well – beat this in until the batter is slack and falls off a spoon
divide evenly between the two cake tins and smooth down the tops with a palette knife
bake on the same shelf in the oven for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer or knife inserted comes out clean
remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack, then remove from the tins and prepare to finish the cake
I like to put jam on both the top of the bottom layer and the bottom of the top layer and sandwich fresh fruit in between – I’ve used blueberries here but strawberries or raspberries would work equally well
eat and of course, enjoy!