I do not like icing. It is the destroyer of cakes. Even as a child, I would ditch the fatty, sugaring coating and dive into the delicious moist sponge beneath. I was the kid to have at birthday parties, while the other children would woof down the icing, I would patiently gobble up the remaining cake beneath.Now icing usually plays an important role when it comes to cake: it locks in the sponge’s moisture and can compensate for a less-than-amazing cake underneath. This means making an icing-less cake put a LOT more pressure on the sponge, but it also means you can get away with making a richer sponge since very little will be going on it. So when I look for a cake recipe I look for ones with sour cream or yogurt, full fat butter, and lots of eggs. All these things make for a cake that will stay moist without the protective layer of icing.
This is my go to vanilla sponge. Since it uses buttermilk instead of sour cream, it is slightly lighter than other sponges I have made, but still keeps it’s moisture well. It also has a few extra egg whites to give the sponge a lovely colour and (again) maintain moisture! But the best thing about this sponge is it’s versatility. You could easily add some cinnamon to the mix and top with a apple compote, or top with raspberry jam and some cream, or add some lemon zest and top with lemon curd, or add a mushed banana and top with super softened cream cheese… you get the idea. Also, go ahead and use a buttermilk substitute, no need to buy an entire bottle of it, although have you ever had buttermilk marinated chicken?? Delicious!! But I digress into the dangerous and wonderful world of fried chicken.
This time, in honour of the Queen’s jubilee, I decided to do a mock victoria sponge and toped the cake with a layer of raspberry jam, some whipped cream, and some diced strawberries. I then proceeded to have a slice with a cup of tea.
I love cake. I love using any excuse possible to make cake. And I love making this sponge. Try it, you may love it too.
p.s. My dislike for icing has two exceptions: cream cheese icing and a delicious chocolate fudgey icing that I promise I will share.
Makes 1 three layer 9″ cake
- 3 3/4 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups + 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 5 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I am luck enough to have some real vanilla from Mexico. It’s absolutely amazing and MUCH more flavourful than extract)
- Preheat your oven to 325F (165C) and take your butter out of the fridge to soften.
- Line the bottom of three 9″ cake pans with parchment paper and butter the sides.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour along with 1 1/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low for a few seconds to incorporate the flour then turn the beaters to high and beat for 2-3 minutes until the batter is nice and fluffy. If you skip the slow beating part, your kitchen will get coated with flour. I’ve done it, not fun.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk.
- Fold the egg mixture into the batter one third at a time making sure to completely incorporate the egg into the batter after each addition. At this stage, you should have about 9 cups of batter, or if your me, just shy of 9 cups due to tasting I refer to as ‘quality control’
- Evenly divide the batter into the three greased and lined cake pans (about three cups in each).
- Place the cake pans in the centre of your oven and bake for 26-28 mins rotating one during cooking. The sponge is done when a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
- Gobble it up right there and then, or allow to cool and dress however you like!