Step 1: Prep
There is nothing worse than getting into the swing of things, then realising you forgot to buy eggs when you’re half way through the recipe. Set aside time to consider the ingredients and equipment you’ll need. This is essential if you would rather not risk overlooking cake tins needed to bake the cake (yes, it happened), or a sieve used to sift flour and icing sugar (interdisciplinary).
Step 2: Get into Character
Wear an apron. Play Beyoncé. Light a candle. Meditate. Whatever you need to do to clear your mind and stay focused on the task ahead: now is the time! I would also recommend a large breakfast, lunch or dinner before your baking begins, to avoid accidental snacking on key ingredients.
Step 3: An Art or A Science?
A series of errors and oversights led me to the conclusion that you do not need to follow a recipe and method as if you are conducting a science experiment, but it might be wise to do that 95% of the time. Over measuring the flour, and then removing the extra 10g of flour without using the scales, lost me at least half an inch of height on my sponge.
Step 4: Making the Cake
Again, there are simple things that make life more difficult when you are at the beginning of your baking career, and rock solid butter is one of them! Mixing the eggs and sugar together is fun, folding in the flour weirdly relaxing, and then trying to whisk rock solid butter into the rest of the mixture is deeply demoralising.
Tip: Purchase soft butter that is easily whisk-able, or put the solid butter in a bowl on top of another bowl of hot water until it melts before you start whisking. Alternatively, use a Kitchen Aid to mix it for you. Last option: improve your upper body strength.
Step 5: Performance
Smile and pretend that you know what you are doing.
Step 6: Admiring your Work
Make sure that you take the time to congratulate yourself on small victories. For example, these beautiful golden sponge bases! Make sure that you leave enough time to gather compliments from your colleagues, family and friends.
Tip: It is true. You do need to wait for the sponge to cool before slathering on the buttercream. You will regret hurrying this.
Step 7: The Final Sprinkle
And voila, a Victoria Sponge was born!
Perhaps the most pleasurable part of the whole process is the sprinkling of icing sugar on top of your freshly baked cake. Again, it is ideal if you have a sieve; otherwise small pinches of icing sugar and sharp sprinkling movements will work too.
Tip: Make sure to capture your masterpiece on camera, and share on your social channels, to raise baking self-esteem.
Whether you are baking for Mother’s Day this Sunday or have another occasion in mind, this recipe is a winner. If I can do it, you can do it.
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