Guest post: Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake
I have a little secret to tell you: my little sister and I share a love for baking. In fact, she’s probably a better patissier than I am. I’ve been trying to convince her to share her Mississippi Mud Pie or lemon squares as a guest post but it just hasn’t happened so far (don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet!). But when I got married three months ago, she baked my wedding cake and it was just too awesome not to share. So here it is: the story of my Victoria sponge wedding cake by my sister Eline.
When my sister told me she was getting married last year, I laughingly suggested that I could make her wedding cake as a contribution to all of the wedding planning madness. Little did I know what kind of project I was taking upon myself…
Now, I am quite an experienced amateur baker and have made my fair share of baked goods – mostly cookies, cakes and pies, but I’d never even attempted any sort of multi-layer cake, so this was quite a big project. After months of sending each other pictures of wedding cakes and Aude Pinteresting every monstrosity of a cake she could find, we still hadn’t settled on what it should be. 3, 4 or 5 layers? Chocolate cake, vanilla cake, fruit cake, biscuit (a firm favorite of our mom’s, it can be compared to a very light, fluffy angel food cake), or some other type? We pored over blogs and cookbooks endlessly and in my kitchen in Dublin I tried a few recipes. Luckily I still had a whole summer to figure out what this cake would end up looking like, so I wasn’t too worried yet.
As I don’t have any experience with fondant, I thought covering a 4-layer cake with it would be too much of a challenge, so we settled on buttercream frosting and fresh flowers or fruit to decorate. However, after several tasting sessions with different types of cake and frosting including one crumbly frosting disaster, I was covered in frosting from head to toe and ready to throw in the towel. We all came to the conclusion that we’re simply not much of a buttercream family, and buttercream was ruled out. So on I went, experimenting with vanilla powder, gelatin and whipped cream to come up with a more stable frosting. Even though everyone was enjoying the endless stream of test cakes, it seemed about time to settle on something definite.
Then, one Sunday afternoon in August, I wanted to make a very basic cake and, as my mom and I have fallen in love with Victoria sponge cake ever since we’ve started taking trips to the UK, I settled on a Victoria sponge cake, the quintessential British icon, and looked up a good recipe. I came across a few pictures of stacked, gorgeous-looking sponge cakes and started googling some more. According to some wedding blogs, sponge cakes were all the rage; apparently they were the wedding cake vintage hype of the year (thank you once again, Pinterest). As Aude didn’t mind the cake looking rustic and homemade, and I was much more comfortable with this than with some frosted monster, we’d finally figured it out!
As you might imagine, the following weekends were spent trying out different sponge cake recipes and frostings, and finally, on September 6th, I produced the largest cake I’ll probably ever make (never say never though, I guess). Without further ado: here’s the recipe for the ultimate Victoria sponge cake!
Proportions are for a normal afternoon tea (21cm cake), not a wedding. Further down, I give you some basic tips on how to multiply the quantities and stack the cakes – but do test this beforehand.
3 large eggs
weight of the 3 eggs in self-rising flour, unsalted butter and fine sugar
1,5 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
crème de framboise liquor or another fruity liquor (optional)
Frozen fruit (mix of berries or raspberries), defrosted and mixed with few spoonfuls of sugar OR fresh fruit if available
250 grams mascarpone
250 ml whipped cream
bag of vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
powdered sugar for decoration
fresh fruit for decoration (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 21 cm spring-form and put in a circle as large as the bottom of your tin, cut out from baking paper. Put the butter and sugar into a food mixer, or use a hand mixer to combine until light and really fluffy, this can take a few minutes. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time while beating very well until everything is properly mixed, again this can take a while. Scrape down the sides of your bowl to make sure all ingredients are mixed properly.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix this in properly. Then add the milk, making sure the dough is still firm but will easily drop off your mixer when you shake it. Don’t over-handle the dough, as this will make the cake less fluffy. Put the dough into the pan, smooth the top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is golden, has risen and a toothpick comes out clean. Then let the cake cool for a while in the tin, open it and let it cool further on a grid.
If you want a perfect-looking cake (or you need it to be flat for stacking several layers), cut off the top when it’s completely cooled to make it perfectly flat. If a homemade look suits you better, leave it on. Then cut your cake through the middle, take the bottom half and sprinkle the top with the crème de framboise so it’s well soaked. Spread a thick layer of raspberry jam on top.
Mix the mascarpone cream and whipped cream with a tablespoon of sugar and a bag of vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer until it becomes very stiff and looks like thick whipped cream. Then take the defrosted frozen fruit or fresh fruit and spread a thick layer on top of the bottom cake. Top this with the mascarpone mixture until the whole of your cake layer is covered, then lay the top half of your cake on top. Dust with powdered sugar and decorate with fresh fruit if you like. Enjoy (as the British do, during some fine afternoon tea)!
(read on for the wedding cake instructions)
If a simple Victoria sponge just doesn’t satisfy your inside megalomaniac and you’re ready to take on the challenge of making a 4-tiered (wedding) cake, here’s how I made mine, good for about 80 small portions:
The cake as seen in the picture consists of 4 layers, so you need 4 different spring forms: 30 cm, 26 cm, 21 cm and 16 cm.
Basically, you can recalculate the ingredients for the cake on the basis of the number of eggs, since you use the eggs to weight the other ingredients. Take 0,5 tablespoon baking powder per egg, one tablespoon of milk per egg and add a slight pinch of salt (don’t exaggerate with the salt). Use 2 eggs for a 16cm cake, 4 eggs for a 26 cm cake and 5 or 6 eggs for the 30 cm bottom cake. The filling isn’t as easy to multiply accurately, but if you’re going to make a large stacked cake you’ll need at least 1kg of mascarpone and 1 liter of cream, and you can easily make more from there.
When it comes to stacking, you essentially need two things: something that acts as a dowel to put inside the cake, and those golden cardboard pie plates to put underneath every layer (you can buy these at paper specialty stores, craft stores, large food or patisserie supply stores or ask you baker). Because I couldn’t find any real dowels, I used those plastic firm sticks they use to attach balloons to (can be found at party/craft stores). Some bloggers suggest plastic straws, but I’m not quite sure if these are strong enough – remember, the bottom cake carries the weight of all the others combined .
Cut the golden cardboard into circles the exact size of your cakes (if they’re too small they might not be supportive, but if they’re too large they will be visible). The dowels go into the ‘supporting’ cake at strategic points and are used to ensure the cake doesn’t cave under the weight. Put your bottom cake on a cardboard and then on a sturdy plate or pie stand. Always spread a little frosting on your cardboard circle before you put the cake on, this will make it less prone to sliding and moving around. Put the smaller cardboard circle on top of the supporting cake and put toothpicks right near the rim at four points so that they form a square. Remove the circle and carefully insert the dowel into the cake at about 1 cm inwards from the toothpick. Mark the top of the dowel with a food-safe pen and take the dowel out. Cut right under this mark and put the dowels back into the cake. Stack and fill the next layer on top, then repeat until you’re at the top layer (which doesn’t need to be done). Decorate the cake to your liking, I used more cream mixture and fresh berries (and of course the gazebo with the plastic wedding couple!).