On a recent cold and rainy afternoon, I decided I wanted cake. I gave the craving and the contents of the pantry some thought and came up with Victoria sponge - I had eggs, flour, butter and vanilla, and a jar of strawberry jam.
Now, this was a slightly risky undertaking. For all Victoria sponges are considered one of the easiest of the sponge family to make because they contain fats and raising agents, I can't remember ever having made a good one. I'm also usually put off because the instructions tend to say to divide the mixture between two tins, and for all my prodigious collection of cake tins, I don't have two of the same size.
I had Felicity's perfect Victoria sponge bookmarked, which uses the old-school direction to weigh the eggs in their shells and then use that weight of butter, sugar and flour. And when I realised that I only had two eggs, that seemed like the right approach to take.
My friend Suelle had commented that she felt the tins called for in the recipe were a bit big for a three-egg sponge, so I thought I would be OK using a single 6" tin for a two-egg sponge. I also used a splash of vanilla extract. Felicity has frequently expressed her distaste for vanilla extract in her column and it isn't a feeling I share. Because of that bit of vanilla I didn't end up needing any milk to get the mixture to the right dropping consistency.
The cake rose beautifully.
I didn't fancy buttercream (in Australian cookbooks sometimes called "mock cream") in the middle, and didn't really fancy going out to get fresh cream (it was, as previously mentioned, a cold and rainy afternoon). I did, however, have a tub of half-fat creme fraiche in the fridge. I dunked a spoon in it and decided that in both flavour and texture it would work well in my cake. It did.