Monday, 13 August 2007

Recipe for Victoria Sponge Cake or Recipe for Disaster ?




His Lordship always declares that one of the very many reasons why he married me was because of my astounding ability to knock out a first rate sponge cake. Victoria sponge being my forte, lemon frosted sponge cake his weakness and my strength. Until yesterday that is, when it really mattered. One of the guests had asked if I could produce a birthday cake. 'No problem' I assured her, I'll do it in my sleep and thought no more about it. Yesterday morning the kitchen at Le Chateau was filled with beautiful fresh speckled brown eggs sitting patiently waiting to be cracked open and land with a gloop into the creamed butter and sugar. My large mixing bowl was on a damp cloth, slightly placed an an angle for that extra 'beat'. Nobody could have held the sieve higher and sprinkled the self raising flour, oh so gently like drifting snowflakes and lovingly folded in with a tablespoon. I didn't recognise what came out of the oven so started afresh but even the second time around it was a dismal failure. I poured over Delia's recipe, I poured over The Good Housekeeping recipe for Victoria sponge cake, I was following it to the letter.

It was a hot Sunday in August at the height of the season in France. I had run out of ingredients, I had five minutes to go before the shops shut bang on midday. Think acute pandemonium, think desperate, despair, deranged. The car spluttered and roared into life and I drove wildly up a steep hill into the neighbouring village of Fanjeaux and fell into the bakers head swivelling madly. And there sitting right in front of me were three Madeleine sponge cakes. A pure stroke of luck, a feeling of lightheartedness and joy surged through me. There were two other people in front of me but I literally snatched them out of the woman's hand and flew back down the hill again. After that I felt completely exhausted and proclaimed myself unfit for further work, not that anyone was listening.

Still with the utterly glorious weather and the sound of gentle enjoyment eminating from the pool I wasn't going to let a small matter of a failed sponge cake ruin an otherwise near perfect day.

13 comments:

ChrisH said...

That's happened to me too - dents the ego a bit when you're used to wowing everyone! Enjoyed the thought of you getting ready to snatch those cakes away from anyone further up the queue!

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Ah my experience is the other way around - dreadful flops time after time and then once in a while - a perfect sponge . . .

muddyboots said...

oh dear sally, what a mess. did you know that some recipes are written incorrectly in the books? perhaps this was one such cake or rock cake should l say?

elizabethm said...

it's weird isn't it? we are a family of demon bakers too, three generations and every now and then the tried and tested recipe just produces a total flop - no more than once every couple of years but no rhyme or reason that I can see. beautiful photo and cunning way out of the problem.

FunkyMunky said...

I think you should still get your gold star ... for improvisation! Did you come clean about the cake?

I love cooking and baking, but can honestly say I've never achieved a perfect sponge cake! I so admire anyone who does!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I get that curse with meringues....every time I offer to do one for something special...
Lovely picture though Sally...I expect the birthday went fine as well...have you tried making a cake since to see if the curse has gone?

countrymousie said...

Oh Sally I can't bake a cake to save my life dear.
Perhaps it was the heat, or too fresh eggs. Nothing you did I feel sure, just the planets conspired against you. lots of love

Grouse said...

Oh! SC....wasnt that the cake, then?

Must get my glasses.........was just thinking how clever you were to knock that up with some flour and a few brown eggs.........

Suffolkmum said...

How typical - I pride myself on being able to bake well, then of course when I am required to pull it off for something special, disaster strikes. You salvaged the situation though!

Pondside said...

It sounds as though this has happened to most of us - but you saved the day with your quick trip to the bakery! I never thought of the eggs being too fresh - that's an interesting possibility!

Tattie Weasle said...

Blame it on Global Warming! Can't beleive that the Godess Delia couldn't help unheard of therefore must be Global Warming.
Had a terrible problem while I was pregnant couldn't for the life of me make pastry anymore - Global warming. Invested in big piece of marble from the local headstone carver chappie - pastry is back to perfect again...

RUTH said...

Doesn't it always happen this way. I have always boasted my Yorkshire Puddings the first time I cooked for my husband's family they went flat as a pancake!

@themill said...

My husband says he married me because I wasn't into horses and things equine!