OK, it’s time to get out your fanciest pair of fat-pants. Because this cake is so fancy, and yet so trashed up, you may feel some confusion. You’re going to want to cut yourself an obscenely giant slice, but at the same time, you’re going to want to eat it with a dainty cake fork on a fine china plate.
Like I said, it can be confusing. But that momentary feeling of disorientation is totally worth it once you top this with a dusting of icing sugar and admire it’s beauty for a second before diving in.
Essentially what I’ve done here is just levelled-up a standard Victoria sponge. Are you familiar with those? It’s a butter cake, traditionally filled with jam, but more usually filled with jam and cream, or fresh fruit and cream.
They’re named for Queen Victoria, and kudos to her, because it’s a hell of a cake. And now she’s in the dessert hall of fame with Dame Nelly Melba and Anna Pavlova.
The best thing about the Victoria sponge is how open to variation it is. Usually people just switch it up with the fruit, and that’s that.
But, you know me, I couldn’t leave it at that, I had to mess with the whole thing. So I gave my cake a makeover.
First, the cake itself. White chocolate was a no-brainer. I love the way that it adds richness, as well as more vanilla intensity. The second, less conventional change I made was to separate the eggs out and whisk the whites. A slightly lighter sponge is perfect with cream and fruit.
And speaking of the cream and fruit, I couldn’t leave that alone either! Ever since last Christmas I’ve been obsessed with whipped sour cream. And to take the sweet-sour theme through to the fruit, I roasted the strawberries with a glug of balsamic. I’m sure the whole world knows about strawberries and balsamic vinegar by now, but if you don’t you MUST try it. It’s a ridiculicious combo.
And there you have it! You take the tender, buttery vanilla cake, and slather it with tangy whipped sour cream, pile on the roasted strawberries like melted gemstones and then blanket the top with icing sugar.
Totally fancy, but also not. No more difficult than a regular Victoria sponge, but just a little more exciting. This is the kind of baking that I absolutely love. What’s your favourite way to tweak a classic?
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1½oz (40g) white chocolate
- ¾ stick (75g) butter, softened
- ¾ cup (170g) caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra
- 2 eggs, separated
- ½ cup (125ml) milk
- 1 pound (500g) strawberries
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp caster sugar (depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
- ½ cup (125ml) sour cream
- ½ cup (125ml) double cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160C, and grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
- Place the white chocolate into a small microwave-safe bowl and melt it in the microwave. I do this in 20 second bursts, stirring well after each, as white chocolate burns very easily.
- In a large bowl, or a stand mixer, beat together the butter and 170g of caster sugar, until light and creamy.
- Add the melted, slightly cooled white chocolate to the butter and sugar and stir until just combined.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Now, while slowly mixing, add the flour mixture and the milk, in four additions, alternating between the two.
- When everything is incorporated, scrape down the bowl, give it a final mix, and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the reserved egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tbsp caster sugar, and whisk again until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, and scrape the batter into the cake tin, smoothing down the top.
- Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until it springs back lightly when pressed and a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and leave it to cool completely in the tin, on a rack.
- While the cake is baking, you can throw in the strawberries at the same time. Wash and hull the berries, and slice them in half.
- Throw them into a shallow baking dish and pour over the balsamic vinegar, and as much sugar as you think the strawberries need.
- Roast the berries for 10 minutes, and then set them aside to cool completely.
- Whip together the sour cream, cream and sugar to soft peaks and place in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
- When the cake is cooled, trim the top of the cake flat, and then slice into two even layers. Place the ugliest layer (reserving the nicest one for the top), onto a serving plate and spread with the whipped sour cream.
- Top with plenty of the strawberries and their syrup, and then top with the final cake layer.
- If you want nice neat slices, place the cake into the fridge for at least an hour to chill. Otherwise, serve it up, with any extra strawberries and syrup on the side. Gorgeous.