By Tom Conway
I recently discovered Victoria sponge cake thanks the PBS program, where Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood serve up tasty challenges to a group of lovely home cooks and amateur bakers. The show is quite sweet as are the recipes, and the contestants a wonderful mix and colorful palette of Britain today.
“Sponge” is an indispensable word in the show’s lexicon. Every judgement seems chased by the line, “Oh, lovely spooooooonge” or “Scrumptious sponge,” which describes the rich, tender, buttery cake before them. I find myself walking around the farm spouting off “Sphooonge, spaaaaooooonge, spongggggge’ in my best (or is that worst) British accent. I can no longer bake anything without chiming in about its sponge, whether it has one or not.
There is one recipe as iconically British as apple pie is to the American table: Victoria sponge cake. In the original recipe, just jam and whipped cream are used, sandwiched between and oozing out of a two-layer cake. Quite the showstopper, but for my version, I wanted to bump up the freshness and richness of the cake by adding island-grown raspberries and cream-cheese-laden whipped cream, respectively. I must say these upgrades to the “spooooonge” elevated an already great dessert. Here’s the recipe:
Vashon Victoria Sponge Cake
1 cup butter
4 eggs (extra large)
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract)
8oz cream cheese
8oz heavy cream (36% butter fat)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 cups raspberries (or any seasonal fruit)
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
1. Whip room-temperature butter in mixer until fluffy. Add sugar to butter, mix until fully incorporated.
2. Add room-temperature eggs one at a time to mixture, mix, scrape down sides of bowl, mix until smooth. Add extract.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt mixture together then add a spoonful at a time to eggs and sugar until fully blended. Batter will be very thick. Spoon into buttered and floured springform pan, smooth evenly.
4. Bake at 350 for 30-45 mins, test with toothpick to make sure no batter sticks. Center will rise.
Whipped Cream Cheese
5. Whip room-temperature cream cheese until fluffy.
6. Add powdered sugar and whip until smooth.
7. Slowly drizzle cream into mixture one tablespoon at a time, scape sides, repeat until fully incorporated.
9. In a separate bowl add berries and warmed jam, gently mixing to coat berries.
10. Cut cake in half around its circumference so you have two thinner disks.
11. On bottom cake layer add berry mixture, spreading evenly. Reserve some berries for top layer.
12. Atop the berry mixture spread the whipped cream cheese mixture evenly. Reserve some for top layer. Add second cake layer and top with cream then berries. Serve cake chilled.