If I had to pick my favourite cake out of any in existence I would probably, after a long pause, pick a Victoria sponge.
It’s a classic that will never go out of fashion and is simple, easy and cheap to make.
Best of all, it’s pretty hard to get it wrong so an easy bake to knock out if you’re short of time and want to impress.
While the basic recipe never changes, here I’ve made a few tweaks to add some new flavours into the mixture.
I was going to a friend’s house for dinner in their garden to escape the insufferable London heat so needed something light and summery.
So to create this, in the cake batter I added a drop of Spice Drops (available from Ocado or Whole Foods) in rose flavour and the same amount in orange to the buttercream, although any brand of flavouring should have a similar effect.
The benefit of these drops is that they are a really quick and easy way to flavour a cake as one drop is equivalent to half a teaspoon. It’s also a lot quicker than zesting an orange but this will have the same result.
The flavours are pretty strong so you only need a tiny drop for an entire cake and there’s nothing artificial in them so you aren’t adding anything chemical to your cake.
While I would usually add fruit into a sponge, with this one I served raspberries on the side which contrasted beautifully with the fluffy sponge.
225g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1 drop of Spice Drops rosewater flavouring
4 large eggs, at room temperature
50ml milk, whole is best but semi skimmed will do
50g unsalted butter, very soft
300g icing sugar
50ml double cream
1 jar of raspberry jam
1 drop of Spice Drops orange flavouring
Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and line three 8inch cake tins with parchment paper.
Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and doubled in size, around three minutes with an electric whisker or five without. If using an electric mixer make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl so all the ingredients are well mixed in. Add in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is completely combined. Then add the rosewater spice drop.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and carry on stirring until everything is combined. As you’re mixing, slowly pour in the milk, and when the entire mixture is combined, pour into the three baking tins.
Try and make the tins as equal as possible (you could weigh them if you’re the kind of person who will be annoyed with mis-matching layers) and then bash the tins a few times on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles.
Next pop them into the oven for 25 minutes. The sponges are done once they spring back when you gently press them, or a sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely before the icing stage. While you’re waiting for the cakes to cool make your icing. Beat together the butter, cream and sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
It should be thick – like soft butter – and the longer you beat it for the smoother it will become, around five minutes with an electric mixer. Add in the orange spice mix and stir until it’s completely blended through.
Next assemble your cakes. Spread a thick layer of jam in the middle of the first layer leaving a margin of cake around the edge of the sponge. Fill this margin with the buttercream mixture then place the second sponge on top.
Repeat the whole process and then gently place the third layer on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar and you’re done. When cutting up, serve alongside a bowl of fresh red berries.