One of my favourite baking recipe books is Annie Bell’s Baking Bible. Its a fantastic book filled with straightforward, easy to follow classic recipes for cookies & biscuits, traybakes, sponge cakes, cheesecakes, chocolate cakes, tarts, pies, brownies, breads and meringues.
One of my favourite recipes is this classic tearoom chocolate victoria sponge cake. I made this last year for my very good friend Dimitra’s birthday and she loved it so much I promised I would make it for her again. So here it is!
INGREDIENTS (makes 1 x 20cm cake)
225g • 8oz unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for the tin
225g • 8oz golden caster sugar
175g • 6oz self-raising flour, sifted
50g • 2oz cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder, sifted
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 medium eggs
100ml • 3½ fl oz whole milk
100g • 3½ oz unsalted butter, softened
100g • 3½ oz icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 medium organic egg yolk
100g • 3½ oz milk chocolate, broken up
15g • ⅔ oz unsalted butter
30g • 1¼ oz cocoa powder, sifted
50ml • 1¾ fl oz coffee (or water)
1 tbsp golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 190C/170 fan/gas 5 and butter and flour a 20cm/8in loose-bottom cake tin, 9cm/3½ in deep.
Start by whisking the butter for 1-2 minutes until very pale and fluffy, then add the sugar and continue to whisk for another 1-2 minutes.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the sifted flour mix in between each egg. After all the eggs are incorporated into the mix, add in the rest of the flour and the salt. At a low speed, add in the milk and vanilla extract then transfer to the cake tin, smoothing the surface.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the collar of the cake and leave it to cool completely. When ready to fill, remove from the tin.
To make the buttercream, blend the butter, icing sugar and cocoa together in a medium-sized bowl, then whisk with an electric whisk on high speed for at least a couple of minutes until really pale, fluffy and mousse-like. Add the egg yolk and whisk for a minute longer. (Tip: adding an egg yolk enriches the buttercream but is optional.)
Slit the cake horizontally with a bread knife, spread the buttercream over the lower half and sandwich with the top half.
To make the icing, gently melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water, stirring until smooth. At the same time, combine the cocoa, coffee (or water) and golden syrup in a small pan and heat almost to boiling, if necessary giving it a whisk until smooth. Add this to the melted chocolate and blend to a thick icing. (Tip: use the icing straight away; if it loses its shine, whisk in a teaspoon of water until glossy again.)
Smooth this over the top of the cake, taking it up to the sides, and leave it to drip down in whatever fashion it wants.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a good photo of my finished cake so this is the photo from the book, taken by Con Poulos.
This cake is seriously delicious. I’d go as far as saying its one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made or tasted. Its indulgent and rich without feeling sickly. In fact its worrying how much of this I can eat before having to stop myself!
This keeps well in a cake tin for several days.