Priding themselves as having the best cake counter in London, the Betty Blythe Vintage Tea Rooms is a private vintage tea room in West London, in a little nook called Brook Green. The beautiful 1920s themed setting brings together all that is quintessentially British with a sprinkle of Hollywood glamour.
And what else is more British than the Victoria sponge cake? The original late 19th century recipe by Mrs Beeton has survived two World Wars and now stands as an art form in-itself; the Women’s Institute offers rosettes to whose sponges that pass their high-standards of baking.
So, today Betty Blythe’s own Founder, the UK’s no.1 expert on Street Parties and author of Style Me Vintage Tea Parties, Lulu Gwynne, is giving her top tips on how to whip up the perfect rosette-earning Victoria sponge cake that could put Paul Hollywood to shame:
- Preparation is key – before you begin mixing, weigh out your ingredients so that when you come to start cooking, you’ll be able to work quickly. Every baker’s worst nightmare when it comes to cooking Victoria Sponge is leaving the cake mixture too long, losing its air! Prep will help prevent you from over-mixing the cake, too. My Aunt Blom’s secret tip? Use self-raising flour with a teaspoon of baking powder for an extra-high and light sponge.
- Keep the ingredients the same temperature – like Goldilocks, your ingredients should be just right. Slightly warm eggs don’t hold the same volume of air as chilled eggs, so keeping your ingredients at room temperature is a major save. But butter or baking spread should be slightly warmer than everything else to keep it soft but still holding together. Too cold and it won’t blend with the sugar and eggs, too warm and it’ll be oily.
- Always. Sift. The. Flour – sifting adds air and makes your Victoria sponge even lighter and fluffier. If you use the freshest eggs you can find, the whites will whip up into a frenzy of air. When you whisk the whites with the sugar, whisk until it’s white; that’s a tell-tell sigh that the mix is plump with air.
- Preheat the oven – if you don’t preheat the oven beforehand, you might not get the best results from your sponge. While baking, preheat the oven to a toasty 180C/350F. Line the cake tin bottom with greaseproof or parchment paper for best results.
- Pale golden brown is a winner – the best way to know when the Victoria sponge is ready is that it goes a pale goldenbrown colour. When you put your finger in the middle and press gently, it should feel firm. Using a knife, slide around the edge of the tin to release the cake. After taking it out of the oven, place the cake on a wire rack to cool but never put the cake in a tin warm as it might go mouldy! You’ll be the Mary Berry of your friends with this intel.
My bonus tip? For the filling, go with fresh whipped cream and the very best jam you can find. I love Tiptree’s Strawberry and prosecco for that extra special touch, dust the top with icing sugar and put an open bloomed rose on the top!