If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s this: Always Start Simple.
With this in mind, the first recipe I thought to try from Mrs Crocombe’s recipe book was for her Victoria sponge. It’s the sort of cake for which I’ve several recipes, and I have all the ingredients already in the cupboard or on my shopping list (in the case of the eggs).
I feel I should add a disclaimer at this point: this is one of Mrs Crocombe’s non-alcoholic recipes. Though it’s possible she might occasionally fill it with brandy cream or brandy butter, perhaps, for a festive occasion.
Anyway, it’s a very simple recipe, following the standard sponge instructions of creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs, then flour and baking powder, and mixing it all together to become the standard sort of cake batter. Pour it in a tin, bake for half an hour or so at 180C until well risen and golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin for the time it takes to have a cup of tea, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice in half and spread with jam. I used a wild plum jam a friend made. Mrs Crocombe also says to sieve icing sugar over the top, but I don’t currently have a sieve, so I skipped that bit.
Very simple, very straightforward.
Even the quantities are easy to remember: 4 medium eggs and 4oz each of plain flour, butter and sugar, and 1tsp of baking powder.
The sort of recipe that can be scaled up or down as the occasion requires without needing to concentrate on ratios. Count your eggs and have the same quantity of ounces of everything else. A 4-egg mix was just right for my brownie tin, too, which was good. Normally my tins are too big for the suggested quantities.
I was a bit surprised at the lack of flavouring – no vanilla or orange or anything – but I don’t actually think it was needed, even accounting for modern tastes. I suspect it may even become my standard sponge recipe, Victoria or otherwise, and be used whenever I need a sponge, or to adapt a sponge recipe. A spoonful or two of cocoa powder would probably turn this into an extremely tasty chocolate cake, the sweetness of which would perfectly balance with the slight tartness of the plum jam.
Perhaps something to try for next weekend.