Thursday, May 24, 2012
Victoria Sponge Cake
Queen Victoria was born on this day in 1819, and lived to be England's longest reigning sovereign. She enjoyed a simple sponge cake with her afternoon tea; and thus this very easy, light, and buttery cake was created.
I'm a huge fan of afternoon tea, but am usually leaving work or running errands or doing something at 4 o'clock other than sitting down to a nice cup o' tea, some finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. This is a shame - a little break in the afternoon is so restorative! I'd rather have a lovely afternoon tea followed by a small snack later on in the evening than to have a full dinner.
I've even been known to bring all the accoutrements - the cucumber sandwiches, some fruit, a few cookies - with me for lunch at the office, but that's just not the same. There is beauty in the ritual and the tradition of having tea and treats at the appointed time, before transitioning into the evening's chores and duties.
Perfect with either hot or iced tea, easily transported without worrying about frosting, this sponge cake is ideal for virtually any occasion ... and for no occasion at all, but "just because" ....
Victoria Sponge Cake
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Angela Hynes' The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea)
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups self-rising flour*
1/2 cup Solo raspberry filling
powdered sugar, for dusting cake
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8"-round cake pans; line bottoms of pans with foil and grease the foil.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the extracts. Gently fold in the flour and divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let rest for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto a rack to cool completely. Remove the bottom layer of foil.
Place one cake layer (the least attractive one) upside down onto a serving platter; tuck strips of waxed paper underneath it, covering the edges of the platter, to keep the platter clear of dusted sugar. Spread the raspberry filling over the cake, just to the edge, then top with the other layer right-side-up. Dust with powdered sugar, then carefully remove the waxed paper.
Makes 8-12 servings.
* If you don't have self-rising flour, use 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder + 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
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