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Nicola Lamb’s Roasted Strawberry Victoria Sponge

If you've ever struggled to crack the perfect Victoria sponge, this is the recipe for you. Nicola Lamb's failsafe instructions result in the perfect cake, every time, while the roasted strawberry filling and whipped cream freshened up with crème fraîche elevate this bake into the best Victoria sponge you've ever tasted.

Introduction

This Victoria sponge breaks the mould of the classic equal parts sugar/flour/butter/eggs. I made over 30 cakes to get the ratio just right. By replacing some of the butter with egg yolks and adding double cream, we get an extra-moist cake with good structure and lots of flavour. Reducing the butterfat also allows the other flavours, like the milkiness of the double cream, to come through, providing a wonderfully rich and tender backdrop for your cream and fruit. Roasted strawberries could be swapped for jam, but the rich syrup is unbeatable.

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Ingredients

For the roasted strawberries:
200g strawberries
20g caster sugar
For the cake:
200g butter, softened
5g flaky sea salt (about 1⅓ tsp)
245g caster sugar
65g double cream
160g whole eggs (about 3)
35g egg yolks (about 2)
1–2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
90g whole milk
245g plain flour
17g (about 4 tsp) baking powder
25g caster sugar
For the whipped cream:
200g double cream
40g crème fraîche (optional)
15g–20g caster sugar (optional)
icing sugar, to decorate (optional)

Essential kit

You will need: a stand mixer and 2 x 20cm cake tins.

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan.

To make the roasted strawberries, wash the strawberries briefly and halve. If they’re small, just leave them whole. Toss with the sugar on a baking tray. Roast for 30–40 minutes until soft, syrupy and slightly shrunken. The strawberries will go a deeper shade of red. You can keep cooking them for up to an hour. Let them cool and move into a container with all the syrup. You can store them in the fridge for 3–5 days.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan and line the tins. Set aside.

To make the cake, cream the soft butter with the salt and sugar for 2 minutes on a medium speed using a stand mixer. This is enough for the butter and sugar to aerate slightly and become a little paler, but not so much that it is whipped. It is better to err on the side of caution – we don’t want too much air at this stage!

Mix together the cream, whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract and milk. Set aside. Sift together the plain flour and baking powder. Set aside.

Starting with the liquid, alternate adding the liquid and dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar, in around three batches, scraping down as necessary.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, around 475–500g per cake. Sprinkle one cake with the 25g sugar. This will be your top. Bake for 25 minutes, then check if the sponge is golden and bouncy and pulling away from the sides slightly.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes if it doesn’t look or feel ready. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack.

To make the filling, whip the cream with the crème fraîche, if using, and caster sugar, if using, to very soft peaks, then set aside.

Spread the cream filling over the unsugared sponge, leaving a 2–3cm border so it doesn’t splurge too much, followed by generous dollops of the roasted strawberries and their syrup. You may not need to use it all. As a splurging insurance policy, you can pop your assembled cake in the fridge or freezer to firm up the cream a bit.

Place the sugared sponge on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired. Serve with any extra roasted strawberry syrup.

Note: If you are working with very high-fat cream, I recommend adding about 20g of whole milk to help prevent curdling and to keep the peaks lovely and soft.

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