Victoria Sponge

Every now and then, in the middle of a busy chore day our daughter will say, “can’t we just do a baking project?” and while she doesn’t always get her way, on this particular day it was a great opportunity for her to sit down with some books and pick out a recipe.  Because you know what? Letting your kids look at cookbooks and select a recipe is really a tricky way of getting them to read.  She decided on a cake from one of our favorite British cookbooks, Cook with Jamie.  Who doesn’t love cake? This one sure looked yummy and after years of hearing my husband talk about Victoria Sponge today was the day.  It didn’t hurt that Victoria is our daughter’s middle name and most likely the reason she selected this recipe. Even better, she had to tell us the ingredients…and you know what that means…she was reading because she wanted to! Small victory for this mom who adores reading and has a daughter who dreads it.

Have you seen Jamie Oliver lately? He has had a 180 degree turnaround and let’s just say he is an inspiration.  We love his philosophy of good food being important.  Classic food.  Knowing where our food comes from and how it is made.  All lovely ideals that we hope to aspire to a little bit more each day.  Starting with the strawberries we decided to use in this recipe which we picked and froze last summer.  They were perfect for this cake along with the gorgeous jar of Christmas Shimmering Strawberry Preserve from Fortnum & Mason which was a gift to us this past Christmas in a hamper filled with little treats from my lovely sister-in-law who always knows exactly what to send us.  If you are visiting London go to Fortnum & Mason.  It is a food lovers dream- the Tiffany equivalent of food and home goods.  It is probably lucky that we don’t live in London.  Last time we were there my husband practically had to pull me out of the store.

While we were gathering the ingredients for the sponge we let the strawberries thaw.  Bonus…we had made whipped cream the day before and had some left over.  Home made whipped cream is one of our favorite splurges.  And by splurge I mean when we are making desserts why not top them with some lovely whipped cream?  Three of us had never had sponge.  Never.  How have we gone this long without this amazing cake? It isn’t heavy like other cakes and not at all what I had in my mind.  I was picturing an angel food cake texture, which I don’t always like, but this was not that at all.  This was sort of a combination of an american biscuit and a cake put together.  It was more dry than wet and the tiniest bit crumbly.  Not too sweet.  Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks never disappoint us.  They are full of real food for real people.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing you can’t do.  This recipe was perfect.  We will surely be making it again this summer once our berries start growing!

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups self-rising flour, sifted

3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar

4 large organic eggs

zest of 1 lemon

whipped cream

strawberries

powdered sugar for dusting

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour two 8″ cake pans.  Line each base with parchment.  Mix butter and sugar together until it is fluffy and light, about five minutes.  Add one egg at a time and then fold in the flour and lemon zest.  Divide between the two pans and bake about twenty minutes or until  golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly and then turn them out to a cooling rack.  Spread the top of one cake with preserves and layer with whipped cream and berries.  Place the second cake on top and lightly dust with powdered sugar.