Wintery Stevenson Sponge

If you fancy skipping the ramblings the recipe is towards the end.

Recently, I’ve been wanting to get back into baking but I’d been finding it hard to actually find the time to bake just for the sake of it. So I’ve undertaken ‘operation dissertation cake’. This entails baking a cake for the pals who have handed in their dissertation. Part of the fun is that they give me a brief or mood or type of cake they would like. I like this part of the project as I get to experiment with different type of cakes or dietary requirements or flavour combinations.

The classic Victoria sponge was the first cake, but it wasn’t to be just your average Vicky. Since its January and its cold; a little bit snowy and generally rather wintery, it was requested to have a winter flavour. I went for cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and orange to give that taste of warmth in the sponge and after a bit of research found a lovely recipe for mulled wine jam which really elevated the whole experience.

Victoria Stevenson Sponge

Just a few notes:

I used Dove’s Farm Gluten Free self-raising flour as the Lady who had handed in her Diss is Gluten Free but the recipe works exactly the same with regular self-raising flour.

At home, when my mum used to make a Victoria sponge she would weigh the eggs first and then the weight of the eggs would determine the weight of the core dry ingredients. Just a fun fact for you.

Also in regards to the spices, you can add more or less of each depending on what your taste preferences are, I went fairly hard on the cinnamon and allspice as they were Maya’s requested flavours.

Lastly, if you don’t have the time or not in the mood to make jam, any old shop bought jam will do. Try aim for a blackcurrant or blackberry flavour to tie in with the wintery vibes.

Recipe

Sponge:

  • 225G Caster Sugar
  • 225g Butter at room temperature- it makes your life easier
  • 225G GlutenFree or regular self-raising flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2tsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • zest of 2 oranges

Mulled wine jam- Optional. Make the jam while the cake is baking

  • 4tbsp red wine- can be a cheap one!
  • Juice and zest 1 orange
  • 300g mixed berries- I just used a mixed bag from the frozen fruit section in Lidl- aim for winter-ish fruits like blackcurrants/forest fruit
  • 250g Caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water- I added this as there wasn’t a lot of liquid from the Oj.

To Decorate-

  • 400ml double or single cream, whichever you prefer. I used double.
  • Couple sprigs of mint
  • Dried oranges if you’re really extra/ bothered- to make, just thinly slice an orange, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake at 100°C till dried out. Turn regularly.

Method

 Heat your oven to 170°C before you begin baking and line/grease and flour 2 20cm sponge tins.

Cake:First, with an electric hand mixer beat the butter and sugar till light and creamy. This, if your butter is soft beforehand should take about 10 or so minutes. The longer you beat the butter and sugar the lighter the sponge.

Once your butter&sugar mixture is incorporated and of a slightly lighter colour, add the eggs one by one. You can fold them in or use the beater- I used the beater, but be careful not to over mix.

Add your dry ingredients and orange zest after the eggs. I used the beater again to ensure everything was thoroughly mixed. It’s important to sieve the flour and baking powder before adding it to the wet mixture as to avoid any lumps.

Divide the mixture equally between the 2 sponge tins and pop them in the oven on the same oven rack. By putting them on the same rack it ensures an evener bake and colour of the final sponges. Since I used gluten-free flour it took a bit longer to bake, but generally, a Victoria sponge takes 25-30 minutes in the oven. Be careful not to open the over before that as the cold air can make the sponges fall. To check if they are finished, insert a clean thin knife/skewerer/knitting needle into the middle of the cakes. If it comes out clean then your good to pull them out, if not give them another 5-7 min. You can also tell if they are done by if they are springy to touch.

While the cake is baking, make the jam.

Jam: Add all the ingredients to a heavy based pot, and boil for 10 min initially to get the sugar to dissolve and to heat the liquids/ defrost the fruit. Then reduce the heat to simmer the fruit for 20 or so minutes. When you want to check the consistency put a bit on a cold plate (I kept mine in the freezer). If it doesn’t really thicken once cooled then keep simmering. Keep stirring it frequently. After 20/25 min take it off the heat and let cool. Don’t fret if when it cools it’s too thick, just add some hot water or orange juice to thin it down.

Decorate: Once your jam and sponges are cooled its time to assemble your creation. Place the base sponge on a plate/cake-stand or in my case a chopping board. Put a generous amount of jam on the base sponge, then place cream on top. (Make sure you beat your cream till fluffy but not too stiff). Then repeat, place the top sponge on. This time its cream then jam. Arrange your dried oranges and mint.

I recommend sharing with friends and accompanied with a cuppa tea.

xoxoxo

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