I am popping over to see a lovely friend today and have decided to make a Victoria Sponge. One of my favourite cakes, which always goes down a treat. Especially with one of my adorable nieces, Madeleine, who doesn’t like chocolate cake. I know. Shocking.
So, I begin by creaming the butter and castor sugar. Now here’s a thing. I have stopped using actual butter made from milk, and have started using Flora buttery made from vegetable oils in the main, or one of it’s many offspring. And the reason is, that, be it my oven or not I don’t know, but the cakes when made with butter were coming out ‘heavy’. Which is not at all what a Victoria Sponge should be.
So, although usually a great advocate of butter, I have converted to what we used to call margarine. I remember as a child, margarine became the saviour of the human waistline, so all families began using it for something. However, when spreading margarine onto toast I have memories of thinking, ‘whoa, food from space’. The colour, the texture, everything looked as though it had been made from albino tyres. Anyway.
Obviously, as the queen of multi-tasking, I then decide, whilst adding the eggs, to look up the origins of the name, so that I can, with confidence, declare it’s affinity to Queen Victoria. And indeed, my suspicions are right.
Then two things happen. Firstly, I cannot for the life of me remember exactly how many eggs I’ve put into the mixture, as I was always taught to add one at a time, so add another for good luck. And secondly, I find this piece of hilarity:
“…the earliest attested sponge cake recipe in English is found in the 1615 book of English poet and author Gervase Markham, The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman”.
Here we pause to reflect on how far we, as a society, have come. Or not.
I do have a smirk to myself about the word Huswife though.
Back to the sponge. After 30 minutes, I tentatively open the oven door, and my heart, along with the cake, sinks. Buggar. And then I have an ingenious plan. I am going to make mini Victoria Sponges out of the large Victoria Sponge. With the left over sponge, I decide to make trifle over the weekend.
No-one will know.