Some of the most moist, fluffy, and sinfully sweet cakes I have ever tasted have been made by my Dad. In fact, my Dad is the treats guy. He has been known to buy bags of cookies and consume every one (although somehow hasn’t managed to gain any weight…) So when I asked him if he could send a great dessert recipe to me, I was surprised to hear that he didn’t have one! I guess in his older age he is pretending to forget how to bake! Either that, or over the years humility has gotten the better of him, and so now he’s claiming to no longer posses talents that he most certainly has.
However, the following day I was delighted to receive a lovely email from my Dad detailing a memorable buttercream frosting recipe passed down to him from his mother, baking tips, and his secret to fabulous cake. (Humility got the better of him for a split second, I knew it…)
Now… this Victoria Sponge is so easy and fabulous because, well… its made from a cake mix out of a box! Dad’s secret revealed… He makes some of his best cakes from boxed cake mix, so I wouldn’t bake it any other way for Father’s Day. Besides, he’s the type of man who figures, “If the ingredients are already mixed up, and all I have to do is add eggs and water, then why on earth would I make it from scratch?” Practical and efficient – adjectives not lost on my Dad.
Easy Victoria Sponge à la Dad
Victoria Sponge Cake Mix from a box
125g salted butter, room temp
approx 400g icing sugar, sifted
1 jar of strawberry jam (I used Bonne Maman)
*I used Sainsbury’s Victoria Sponge mix as I’m living in England, but for those across the pond, any vanilla cake mix will do. Follow directions on your particular cake mix – you usually need eggs, oil, or water.
Dad’s tip: once the cakes have finished baking in the oven, quickly place them in the freezer to retain maximum moisture. They will still be warm on the inside but flash-cooled on the outside.
For the Filling:
On medium speed, beat the butter, then slowly add the sifted icing sugar, alternating with vanilla and milk, then continue with icing sugar until combined. The consistency should be as my Dad explained, “smooth enough to spread, but just stiff enough for swirls to stand up on their own.” As seen below…
Carefully flip one cake out of its pan onto a plate, first slather with buttercream, then slather with jam. Carefully remove the second cake from its pan and place on top. Dust with icing sugar to top.
Dad’s tip: “…I would spread the icing, (which would spread really nicely on the cool surface) without tearing the cake, and then immediately pop the finished cake back into the freezer for about an hour. This would allow the heat and retained moisture in the cake to gradually diffuse outward toward the cool surface according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (first postulated and credited to French scientist M. Sadi Carnot in 1824) while at the same time cooling but not freezing the icing so as to prevent sagging of the swirls. I would then take the cake out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to keep it cool until a half hour before serving at room temperature. Very moist and rich!!”
I wonder whether this M. Carnot ever considered that his Second Law of Thermodynamics would, centuries on, be applied to baking by my Father…
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I’ve inherited your sweet tooth.
|From Left: My Dad, aunt, and uncle circa 1960 – looking effortlessly cool.