Victoria Sponge may seem an over simple recipe to make as it’s always one of the first things you learn to bake as a child, but mastering the art of any gluten free baking isn’t as straight forward and you have to go back to basics.
I love baking, but I have to admit I have had my share of failures when it comes to making the perfect gluten free cake that is light but moist and holds its shape. Recipes have to be adapted properly to compensate for the lack of gluten and I have learnt it’s not just as simple as replacing the normal flour in a recipe with a gluten free version, there has to be special ingredients added too. Gluten is the ‘glue’ that helps the ingredients stick together and rise plus it gives dough its elasticity but when you take that away in gluten free baking, the challenge is putting it back in so the sponge doesn’t crumble. Xanthan gum (the gluten free versions) is the answer to this problem. It’s a protein that acts as a food thickener that also works well to add stickiness to a gluten free batter and thus hold the ingredients together.
When I went back home recently to see my parents in Leeds I had my mum show me her technique because she is ,without doubt, one of the best bakers I know and can make GF cakes with her eyes shut! I think this recipe makes one of the best Victoria sponge cakes so here is what you will need:
Gluten Free Victoria Sponge ingredients:
6 oz / 170g Gluten Free Self Raising Flour (we used Doves Farm)
6 oz / 170g Bertolli Olive Oil Spread (we used Bertolli but you can use a different one)
6 oz / 170g Caster Sugar
3 medium eggs at room temperature
1 Teaspoon of Gluten Free Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum (Doves Farm do a gluten free one)
Splash of milk
A few drops of Vanilla Bean extract
Raspberry Jam (or what ever fruit jam you prefer)
Icing Sugar for dusting
1) Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/ 160 degrees (lower to 150 degrees for a fan oven)
2) Grease two 8 inch cake tins and line the bottom of each tin with grease proof paper
3) Put the sugar and olive oil spread together in a large bowl. Using an electric whisker, whisk for a few minutes until the mixture is combined and has turned lighter in colour and is creamier in texture (see below)
4) Add the first 2 eggs into the mixture one at a time, mixing a little between each one with the electric whisk. When you add the 3rd egg also add a tablespoon of flour at the same time, mum says this makes the eggs combine better with the mixture as its very liquid at this point
5) Continue to mix the sugar, oil olive spread and egg mixture for a further minute or 2 to combine
6) Gently fold in all the flour, Xantham gum, baking powder, 3 or 4 drops of vanilla bean extract and a splash of milk. Using a large metal spoon carefully fold all the ingredients together ensuring you don’t over work the batter as it needs to stay light and fluffy
7)Gently spoon the mixture equally between your 2 cake tins and place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes
8) After 30 minutes take them both out of the oven and test if it is cooked through using a cake tester, if the mixture is slightly wet in the middle still put them back in the oven for a further 5 minutes. The cakes should be a light golden brown colour when finished.
9) Leave them to cool completely before decorating your cake. I like to fill mine with raspberry jam and lightly dusk the top with icing sugar but you can also fill the middle of your cake with fresh whipped cream along with the jam or anything else that takes your fancy!
I think this recipe makes a lovely light and fluffy cake but I would love to know if this recipe works as well for anyone else!