I am a bad blogger, I have such a backlog of posts and recipes to post on here, I'm going through the jottings in my notebook and pictures on my laptop to try and match them up - this should have been posted months ago.
On one of my recent cake distributions at work I was asked by a colleague if I had any tips for Victoria Sandwiches as he was due to enter a competition at a local horticultural society show and had, after six years of entries, yet to place. I had to confess that I'd never attempted one and after a brief conversation about the merits of double sifting flour and the use of margarine over butter he jotted down the required recipe (6oz each of SR flour, butter and sugar and 3 eggs to be baked in two 7" or 8" tins) and off I went to bake. I made several cakes over the following weeks (thanks/apologies to neighbours and colleagues for consuming them all).
The trouble with a Victoria Sandwich is there's nowhere to hide. The competition rules are clear - only jam inside, SR flour and no additional raising agents - it really all is about the lightness of the crumb.
I experimented with butter (best for taste), margarine, which did give a better rise but resulted in a greasy, paler cake and I also tried a 'spreadable' butter which apparently gives the rise of marg with the superior butter taste, but I still felt was greasy. In the end I decided to be a purist and went with butter in a 7" tin to get a deeper sponge.
There was no rosette for me this year, (you can see my entry, and the competition here) but I'll share a few tips I picked up along the way:
- Double sifting flour - it really does make a difference and enables you to reduce the amount you have to work the batter to incorporate the flour, which will help with lightness.
- Beating the eggs before adding - this also helps if you decide to weigh the eggs and measure the other ingredients this way i.e. if 3 eggs out of their shells weigh 174g then you should add that amount of flour, fat and sugar *
- If the mixture starts to curdle when adding the eggs add a tbsp of the flour to bring it back together
- Turn your tins - depending on your oven of course but I found that rotating the cakes with about 7 minutes to go resulted in an even even colour on top.
- Raspberry jam is easier to spread than strawberry and means a neater finish at the edges (I used Bon Maman).
- A dusting of caster sugar is supposedly acceptable for the competition.
Finally, a week after the competition it was Miss M's 14th birthday and of all the cakes she could have requested she went with a VS. So, after weeks of sticking to various rules and regulations I really went for it, behold The Scooby Doo Cake
*sometime after the competition, said colleague reported that beating the egg whites separately might add even more lightness, after swearing off these cakes for at least a year I had to go straight home and give it a go ... no difference that I could see.