Fig and Chocolate Victoria Sponge – Random Recipes #31

Cake, Layer cakes | 24th August 2013 | By

This month for Random Recipes we were asked to take 10 seconds to grab one book and run. Dom reckoned with no time to think, we would automatically go for our most useful book. My go to baking book is Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which coincidentally is the book that featured in last month’s Random Recipes.  If I need a reminder on how to make something or need a reliable recipe, then this is the first book I turn to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or even most comprehensive baking book I own, although I suspect it probably is, but I’ve had the book for many many years and it is like an old familiar.

The next task was to randomly pick a recipe. When I asked CT to pick a number, he obligingly came up with no. 15 which was Nigella’s Victoria Sponge. I have made a Victoria innumerable times, but I have never used Nigella’s recipe before. She suggests substituting some of the flour for cornflour. I’m always interested in trying different methods and ingredients, so I was keen to see what, if any, difference this made. On the three page spread that this classic took up, chocolate was not even mentioned once – harrumph! With a sponge, this is really not a problem as it can generally be filled with whatever you like. I decided I would fill it with the fig and pomegranate jam I made last year and a chocolate buttercream – chocolate and figs are a good combination I reckon.

This is how I made:

Fig and Chocolate Victoria Sandwich

  • Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until pale and airy.
  • Beat in 1 tsp chocolate extract.
  • Beat in 4 eggs (2 medium hens eggs and 2 large duck eggs).
  • Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal spelt and half white), 25g cornflour and 1½ tsp baking powder. Stirred in as gently as possible.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk (ordinary milk is fine, but sour helps with the rise).
  • Divided mixture between two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes until the cakes were risen, golden and firm to the touch.
  • Turned first cake out of the mould to cool. And this is where disaster struck. I normally leave the cakes to cool in the moulds for ten minutes before turning out, but in my eagerness I didn’t listen to the warning bells in my head. Large chunks stuck to the bottom of the mould and my first cake was a mess. I dutifully left the second one in it’s mould for 15 minutes before turning out and it was absolutely fine.
  • Melted 15g of dark chocolate (72%) in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
  • Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g golden icing sugar until pale and fully incorporated.
  • Beat in the chocolate.
  • Beat in 1 tbsp double cream.
  • Placed all the pieces from the broken cake together to form a round as best I could.
  • Covered this with the contents from a small jar of fig and pomegranate jam.
  • Spread the buttercream over the bottom of the intact cake and placed this, bottom side up on top of the broken one.
  • Dusted the top with caster sugar, then immediately cut a slice to see a) if it would hold together and b) how it tasted.

I am eating that slice now and can attest that despite its rather crumpled look, the cake held together and tastes wonderful. The jam and buttercream are a good combination, but I actually think the jam with whipped cream would have been a better one – less sweet and would have allowed the jam to really shine. I’m not sure I really noticed any difference having used cornflour but it wasn’t a double blind trial.


    • Leave a Reply

      27th August 2013

      Yes, duck eggs always have such a rich yellow yolk. Very sadly I’ve just lost my supply though as all the ducks were attacked by an Alsatian 🙁

    • Leave a Reply

      27th August 2013

      Thanks Angie. Nigella may have a bit of an image problem, but she’s a fine recipe writer 😉

  1. Leave a Reply

    24th August 2013

    This is my favourite cake recipe of all time…wouldn’t like to say how many times I have made it over the years as I love it so much…have tried other vic sandwich recipes but for me this is the one…with cream it is to die for…yours looks amazing. x

    • Leave a Reply

      27th August 2013

      Thank you Susan – I’ll bow to you on this one as you are the queen of Victoria sandwich cakes. It was a very good sponge, but as I always use wholemeal flour I suspect the cornflour wouldn’t be able to make much headway.

  2. Leave a Reply

    belleau kitchen
    24th August 2013

    Wow. I’ve just loved random recipes this month. It’s so interesting to see which books people choose and why. I have this book too and it is very comprehensive. I love that you clearly enjoyed making this and trying a new spin in a classic which is a lovely tribute to the challenge. I must say the fig and chocolate combo looks AMAZING!! Thanks so much for the fab entry xx

  3. Leave a Reply

    24th August 2013

    Can you imagine how excited the Victorians would be to have fig and pomegranate jam in their sponge? I know I’m excited just reading about it! 🙂 xx

  4. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    25th August 2013

    my mum always uses some cornflour in her sponge cake but these are aussie sponges which are far lighter than british sponges so am not sure how light you want your sponge. fig and chocolate sounds delicious inside the cake but I would be tempted to add some cocoa to the cake mixture as well – never can have too much chocolate 🙂

  5. Leave a Reply

    The KitchenMaid
    25th August 2013

    That Random Recipes grab and go scenario sounds like earthquake training to me (or maybe I’m just a bit one-eyed at the moment, having returned to the shaky isles! Gorgeous sponge, lovely to see what you have been up to while I’ve been away. Look forward to catching up properly AND getting back on track with WSC!

  6. Leave a Reply

    london bakes
    25th August 2013

    I’ve read that using a little corn flour approximates ‘cake flour’ which we don’t tend to be able to get here but I’ve never tried it myself. Your cake looks wonderful though and I love that fig filling.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Phil in the Kitchen
    25th August 2013

    I don’t think that there’s anything more comforting and deeply satisfying than a Victoria sponge. Lovely stuff indeed with that gorgeous jam. I quite understand why you’d grab that book.

  8. Leave a Reply

    Tracy K Nixon
    26th August 2013

    Something a little different! Not sure I would like it as I am not a fig fan but I will pass the recipe onto my parents who are!

  9. Leave a Reply

    27th August 2013

    I love that your ‘grab and run’ recipe book was the same one I chose! I wonder how many others picked Nigella?

  10. Leave a Reply

    29th August 2013

    A lovely twist on the victoria sponge, I don’t think I’ve ever tried cornflour in a victoria sponge either. Love the sound of fig and pommegranate jam. I should really be a bit more adventurous with my jam choices.

  11. Leave a Reply

    Rachel A
    30th August 2013

    I love Nigella’s Victoria Sponge recipe and yours looks beautiful, particularly like the sound of the jam. I was tempted to pick this book too but had a last second change of plan!

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