Yesterday, I was lying in bed, watching 'Julie & Julia', one of my all-time favorite movies and had this sudden urge to eat something fresh and summery, but sweet. Now, that's a craving I don't usually get, since I'm more of 'spicy-and-salty' junkie. There are two or three bakeries in and around our apartment, and any treat from one of those places could have easily satisfied me. But - there's always a but - there's been this pot of flour, a bottle of really good quality vanilla, and these two rather lonely lemons sitting in my fruit basket, that have all been constantly trying to grab my attention this past week. And I thought - "What the heck, let's bake this sweet thing I'm craving!" So, that's how the above, delectable beauty came to be. Now, enough back story, and let's get down to the really simple, almost no-brainer recipe. If you can even call it that. Now, I'll apologize from the start for not having pictures of preparing the cake itself. That's because until this thing was in the oven and the whole house smelled pretty darned amazing, I hadn't decided that this would be a 'Rad Recipe'. However, the steps to making a classic Victoria Sponge are so so easy, and I'll walk you through them as well as I can. If you want, I'll be delighted to do a completely separate recipe (with pictures) on just the basic Victoria Sponge alone, at a later date. Let me know - I try to get you guys what you want!
RECIPE: LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE WITH FRESH BERRIES
RECIPE LEVEL: BEGINNER/MEDIUM
TIME: 50 MINS - 1 HOUR
SERVES: 4-8 (depending on how selfish you want to be!)
For the Victoria Sponge:
- 1 1/2 cups of Plain Flour, sifted
- 1 cup Butter, softened and at room temperature
- 1 cup Granulated White Sugar
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract (none of that fake 'essence' stuff, please)
- 2 large Eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder (not 'baking soda')
- 1/2 cup Whole Milk
- Zest of 2 lemons (optional)
For the Lemon Drizzle and Garnish:
- Juice of 2 Lemons
- 1/2 cup White Sugar (you can use 'confectioner's sugar' here to make your life easier)
- A Wooden Skewer
- 1 cup of Strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
- 1/3 cup of Raspberries
- 2 tbsp Confectioner's Sugar, for dusting over the top (optional)
So, this is what the Victoria Sponge looked like right out of the oven. Still piping hot, and it's incredibly important to let it rest for at least 10 minutes until it's cool enough to handle, and then take it out of the cake plan and let it rest for an additional 15 minutes. Let me quickly walk you through the steps to getting a perfect cake.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C (this is crucial - we do not want our batter going into a cold oven; that messes up the cook time and might also ruin the texture of your cake)
- In a large bowl, cream together the room temperature butter and the sugar, until you can hardly feel any more sugar granules. I used a plain old whisk to do this - and you most definitely can. I don't own a Kitchen Aid (I plan to, very soon!) or an electric hand whisk. If you're gonna' eat this cake, might as well get in some workout beforehand, I say!
- Once the sugar and butter are creamed together, add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly. We add the eggs one at a time so that the mixture has less chances of curdling. Even if you see lumps, don't panic! It'll all work out soon as you keep whisking and adding the rest of the ingredients. It is your goal, however, that you end up with a smooth and as much of a lump-free mixture as possible, at every step.
- Add in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest, if you're using the latter, and whisk some more. I already knew that I'd be making a lemon drizzle cake, which is why I added the zest from the two lemons I'd be using for the drizzle. Why waste all that gorgeous zest, filled with wonderful oils that'll take your cake to a whole new level? A classic Victoria Sponge, of course, does not use the lemon zest.
- Finally, add in the baking powder and then add in the sifted (very important - to avoid lumps and incorporate air into your cake!) flour in thirds, alternating with the milk. So, add about a third of the flour and then a third of the milk, whisk, and then repeat 'til you run out of flour and milk.
- Very important note! Please do NOT overwork the flour! Unless you love a tough cake that's more like a bread. Overworking flour activates the gluten in it, which is important for bread-making, but absolutely to be avoided if you want a nice, fluffy and light cake. I'd suggest switching to a spatula or wooden spoon and folding in the flour, if you don't trust yourself to be gentle with the whisk.
- Once your batter is ready, transfer it to a round cake pan - I used a 9" round one. Make sure the entire bottom and all the sides of your cake pan is well-buttered and then dusted with some plain flour. This will make sure all your hard work does not remain in the cake pan after it's baked! Also, I used a spring-form cake pan, because I find it so much easier to de-mould this way. All that knife and flipping-over-onto-a-plate action makes me very nervous.
- Right, so put in your cake on the middle rack of your oven, so it's not too close to the bottom heating element - which can result in an overly brown/burnt bottom. If you're into that - 'cuz I know some people are - go for it. This cake should bake for 30-45 minutes. Everybody's oven is different, so please make sure you check it in 5-minute increments once it crosses the 30-minute mark. Insert a wooden skewer into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean (a.k.a. without any uncooked cake batter clinging to it), then you're done! Also, you're looking for a light golden top, not brown.
I hate it when cooks say, "I wish you could smell how good it smells in here" but I will do it on this one occasion. Please, make this recipe and tell me your entire house doesn't smell of summery goodness! The perfect, homemade cake that's just a few notches higher than a simple vanilla sponge cake - serve it for a tea party, enjoy it with your family, eat the entire thing yourself (as my husband threatened he would!) - whatever! Just make it!
I hope you enjoyed the first of many easy dessert and cake recipes to come on MrinHearts! Please let me know how you guys are doing, whether you're enjoying MrinHearts, making stuff from different posts, and what you'd like to see in upcoming posts. Please keep the comments and requests coming in - that's how I know I'm doing a good job! Also, share the posts with your friends and family, if you think they'll enjoy them! The links are always down below.