Saturday, 25 April 2009

Victoria Sponge – how hard can it possibly be?

Sometimes there are days when everything works out, and occasionally there are days when everything goes wrong. This was one of those days – the later sort.

A box of duck eggs had been sitting on the counter for a couple of days, just asking to be used. Then I remember a comment by neighbour’s husband, ‘they make a wonderful Victoria Sponge’. After a quick phone call to my mum to get her recipe, I set about making my sponge. First problem – how many duck eggs are equal to 4 hen eggs?

P4190057 Visiting my neighbour to ask her opinion resulted in me leaving with a fresh goose egg to use instead (and apparently 3 duck eggs = 4 hen eggs). Goose eggs were even more unfamiliar to me, but the prospect of cooking with one was quite exciting! Armed with the knowledge that a goose egg is equal to 3 hen eggs and the advice that I would really need to whack the shell to get it to break, I hurried back to the kitchen.

P4190059 If 1 goose egg = 3 hen eggs, then by my calculations I would need a hen egg too. In my haste to get started, I mixed the beaten egg with the butter. This was the source of my second problem. I should have creamed the butter and sugar, not the egg, I must have written it down wrongly. Luckily, I saw the magimix at this stage so the egg, butter and sugar, were duly blitzed. The third problem, was slightly more serious: an absence of self-raising flour. OK, this should have been easily remedied, I just needed some plain flour and baking powder, easy when you’ve got plain flour (how could I possibly be this disorganised?). A root-around in the cupboard and I found some local stone-ground flour - great! After sifting the flour to remove some of the coarse bits and adding the baking powder, I was back on-track. Making a cake really shouldn’t have been this difficult. The mixture rose wonderfully, but then I couldn’t get the sponge out of the tins, why had I even started baking this morning? I’d greased them thoroughly, but next time I’ll use greaseproof paper in the bottom.

P4190064 The stone-ground flour gave the sponge a coarser texture than usual and I felt the sponge was a little too dry and crumbly (I think I may have cooked it for a few minutes too long). The result was certainly not the prettiest of cakes I’ve ever made, but it tasted good. With the number of things which wrong, I couldn’t really have ask for anything more – especially as most of my problems were brought on by me, and me alone! (You’ll be glad to know I’ve now stocked-up on both plain and self-raising flour).

Apart from the sugar, all of the ingredients turned out to be Cumbrian: the butter and the damson cheese were bought from local producers at Damson Day, the eggs were from the hens and geese behind the house and the flour was from a local mill. This wasn’t the original aim of making the cake, but it was a wonderful side-product of my comedy of errors!


8oz butter (at room temperature)

8oz sugar

8oz self-raising flour

4 hen eggs (or one goose egg + one hen egg)

2oz butter (at room temperature)

4oz icing sugar

a few tbsp of jam

Method (this is what I should have done – thanks mum!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together, add half the egg and a tablespoon of flour.
  3. Then fold in the flour, this is important as it keeps the sponge fluffy.
  4. Split the mixture between two sponge tins (lined with greaseproof paper) and put in the oven until risen and firm to touch, about 20-25 mins.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
  6. Make the butter icing by mixing the remaining butter and the icing sugar.
  7. Smooth the butter icing onto one half of the sponge, spread the jam on top of the icing, and then place the second half of the sponge on top. Dust with a pinch of icing sugar.
  8. Enjoy with a cup of tea.


  1. The goose eggs are neat! Huge in comparison to the regular ones! Sorry the sponge didn't turn out quite the way you wanted but sounds like it was yummy anyway.

  2. Hey I love this, local made food! :))

  3. 5 star foodie - I was amazed at the size of the egg! I found out from my neighbour yesterday that the rest of her goose eggs were off, so at least I was lucky enough not to add a smelly/off egg to rest of the problems!

    Christelle - you can't beat local food!

  4. Springtime, the cake looks delicious from the picture and it certainly sounds yummy. I've never had a duck egg, that I know of and the whole exercise of calculations definitely appeals to my engineering side. It looks the perfect accompaniment for a cup of tea.

  5. Wow baking with duck and goose eggs--I am so impressed!

  6. Interesting experiment baking with goose egg - very brave!
    Goose and duck eggs are really lovely and different in flavour. I only tried them recently - I had a goose egg soft boiled as breakfast treat - it was divine. Have also made scrambled eggs with duck eggs and it was almost too rich to eat - might try them boiled next time too.

  7. oysterculture - it was wonderful with a cup of tea!

    Laura - it's easier than it first seems!

    goodshoeday - I agree about scrambled duck eggs, I hadn't realised quite how rich they were. Boiled, sounds like a great idea!


I'd love to know any comments you might have.