Stuff & Nonsense: The Great Burlington Baking Club: Victoria Sandwich, or, The Sponge of Despair


05 March 2019

The Great Burlington Baking Club: Victoria Sandwich, or, The Sponge of Despair

This is my second month as a member of The Great Burlington Baking Club. Inspired by The Great British Bake Off, The Great Burlington Baking Club is open to all bakers and cooks -- just make a dish that fits the monthly theme and bring it in to share on the appointed night. Previous themes included layered desserts, desserts featuring fruit, and chocolate desserts. For March, we were all to bring in our version of a Victoria Sandwich -- a cake made of layers of sponge, cream/buttercream, and jam.


Several of us followed King Arthur Flour's "Victoria Sandwich Cake Recipe" and were disappointed by our cakes. And, honestly, relieved that it was a cake fail for everyone who tried to follow it. We like to think we're competent bakers who know how to turn out a decent sponge, but this sponge was dry and crumby, more of a stale scone or shortcake biscuit than a sponge.

Variations between cakes:
I was the only one to use King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, while the others made their own by adding salt and baking powder to all-purpose flour.
I weighed all my ingredients while the others used the time-tested "fluff and scoop" method.
I used three extra-large eggs at room temperature and the others used large eggs straight from the fridge.
One baker skipped the optional almond extract.
Everyone let the butter soften before creaming it with the sugar.

And all our cakes disappointed in exactly the same ways -- dry and crumby with a disappointing rise and a surprisingly firm outside. Although we tried, no amount of cream or jam could save this cake. I've eaten many Victorian Sandwiches -- from home-baked cakes by The Husband's gran to posh hotel show-offs to Sayers' mass quantity sponges -- and I'm embarrassed to association this one with any of those. Rather than call it a Victoria Sandwich, I am calling it the Sponge of Despair.

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