Tag Archives: Heartbreak

Sponge cake to soak up all the tears

18 May

Dear Cake Doctor

I just can’t stop crying – my best friend’s moved abroad, my boyfriend’s stopped calling and I hate my job. Please prescribe me something to stop all the tears?




Dear Weepy,

While I can’t bring your friend home, convince your boyfriend you’re the one (in fact I think you should erase his number from your phone immediately) or get you a new job, I do have a sponge cake whose soft pillowy texture, creamy filling and fresh and fruity finish is bound to soak up all the tears. It’s light, fluffy and filled with as much jam and cream as you can squeeze in. And a proper Victoria sponge with strawberries and cream will remind you that summer’s on its way, along with all the new friends and opportunities that seem to come with warmer weather – this is the perfect cake to bake for a Jubilee street party!

This sponge is concocted the classic way – you’ll feel like a proper baker as you weigh the eggs in their shells, then use just as many grams of flour, sugar and butter. Your bespoke cake will fill the kitchen with the scent of eggs and vanilla and then, once it’s cooled and filled, you can enjoy a slice in the sun with a soothing cup of tea, or, better still, a glass of bubbles.

Sponge cake will soak up the tears and quietly put a smile back on your face without you even noticing. And then, once the tears have gone, I think you’re going to have a wonderful summer.


The Cake Doctor x


Complaint: sad and weepy

Prescription: sponge cake (inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Victoria sandwich)


4 eggs, preferably at room temperature – weigh these, before they’re broken, and then use the same amount of butter, sugar and flour (approximately 230g)

Unsalted butter, at room temperature (same weight as the eggs)

Golden caster sugar (same weight as the eggs)

Self-raising flour (same weight as the eggs), sifted three times

A pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

A dash of milk

Strawberry jam (about half a jar)

125ml whipping or double cream

Half a punnet of strawberries

Icing sugar for dusting


Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (fan-forced). Lightly butter the base and sides of two 20cm,   shallow round cake tins and line with baking paper.









Weigh the four eggs in their shells and take note of the weight!









Now, weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour.

If the butter’s not at room temperature, pop it in the microwave on high for 30 seconds – this should soften it just enough for a proper beating. Put the butter in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon, electric mixer or handheld beaters until it has paled in colour slightly.

Then add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. With electric beaters this will take about 6 minutes for a really fluffy cake, but more if you’re toughing it out with a wooden spoon.

Now add the eggs, one at a time. If they’ve come straight out the fridge, the mixture will probably start to look as though it’s curdling as the eggs go in. Don’t panic, just add a tablespoon of the flour you’ve already weighed and sifted and continue to mix.









Once the eggs have been combined with the butter and sugar mixture, beat in the vanilla extract.

Now, remove the electric beaters or set aside your wooden spoon. Sift the pinch of salt and the flour over the butter, sugar and egg mixture, and use a spatula to gently fold both in. This means, rather than simply stirring the mixture together, picking up only some of the mixture at a time  and ‘folding’ it gently over the rest of the mix. Continue slowly until the flour is all incorporated.









Now, test the mixture’s consistency by picking some up and then tipping it back into the bowl. If the mix slides off easily, it’s ready to go in the oven. If it’s still a bit thick, add a splash of milk and use your folding technique to slowly incorporate until you’re happy with the consistency.

Now, gently scrape half of the mixture into each tin and smooth until they’re even on top.









Pop the tins in the oven together for 25 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned and the cakes pass the ‘wobble test’ – a very gentle shake of the pan shouldn’t cause the top to move like jelly. If you need to open the door to check on the cakes, only open it a very little bit! Letting in too much cold air will cause your cakes to sink in the middle, and it sounds as though you’ve had quite enough of that feeling for now. If you’re still not sure whether your cakes are done, stick a toothpick in the highest point of one of them. If it comes out clean, they’re good and ready! If not, return them to the oven for a further three to four minutes.









Once the cakes are out, leave them to cool a little in their tins, then gently tip out and cool a little longer on a wire rack.









Pick your most perfect cake from the two and set aside. Tip the other one upside down and put on a lovely plate. Spread (the bottom) with a generous dollop of strawberry jam.









Now, pour your cream into a medium bowl. Add a dash of vanilla extract or a sifted tablespoon of icing sugar if you’d like a little more sweetness, then beat until the cream starts to feel thicker, and then beat a little longer. Take care not to overbeat the cream though – or it will lose its fluffiness.









Spread the whipped cream over the jammy base of the less-than-perfect cake.









Now, slice your strawberries and cover the cream layer with the heart-shaped pieces.









Finally, pop the second, perfect cake on top, dust with icing sugar, and voilà! A soft and fluffy sponge to soak up all your tears.










The Cake Doctor x