How to Bake - Paul Hollywood

Victoria Sponge – How to Bake written by Paul Hollywood

To cream the butter and sugar, or not to cream the butter and sugar. That is the question.

I’m sure you are wondering why would I pick a cake recipe from a Baker known for his bread baking skills. The quick, easy answer; Mr. Paul Hollywood says I don’t have to cream the butter and sugar to start. What??? you say. I said the same thing. I can’t remember a cake recipe I’ve completed that I didn’t have to cream the butter and sugar before adding the rest of the ingredients. I was intrigued to say the least.

I have had this recipe book for a while now and religiously bake the Irish Soda bread recipe. I love it! My family loves it! I have shared it with a friend who loves it too. I would get this recipe book for that recipe alone.

About this recipe book in general

The recipe book has a wonderful section at the start that explains the process of making homemade bread. It goes into descriptions of what the various ingredients do when you are making bread which I really think helped me to be a better bread baker. I like the “science” behind it, even though I’m not a very scientific person. Mr. Hollywood also talks about the various pieces of equipment for making bread and being a self-described kitchen gadget junkie, I love this part.

I like that the recipes in this book are done on weight. I purchased a nice digital scale from a restaurant supply store and enjoy using it any chance I get.

There are lots of pictures which show you each step of the bread making process as well as making some “fancy” doughs like croissants and Danish pastry. I have not tried either of those yet but they are on the list. Expect that in the future.

On to the main event – sponge!

I have never made a Victoria Sponge before and this recipe couldn’t have been any easier. Preheat oven. Dump everything into the mixer…don’t over mix according to the recipe. Bake. Decorate. 4 steps. That’s it.

I don’t feel like this was a success. My cakes were not a thick as the picture and I found them to be dry and grainy. I was expecting a soft, fluffy cake and was disappointed in this. Full disclosure: Google told me the temperature to use since the recipe shows Celsius and I needed Fahrenheit. I started checking for done at the 15 minute mark and baked them for only 18 minutes even though the recipe called for 25-30 minutes.

The amount of whipped cream that was made was significantly less than the picture. I could not make the pillowy soft mounds that looked very appealing in the photo. I also found the same with the amount of jam needed. It was a very slight skimming of jam. Before anyone says anything, I did use the exact size pans the recipe called for.

My family ate the cake. My husband thought it tasted like angel food cake, my son just thought it was good. Personally, I won’t make this again. At least not like how it’s written. Maybe at some point in time I’ll try it again, next time creaming the butter and sugar first to see if that makes a difference. For now though, it’s a “meh” in my books and I’ll go in search of a different Victoria Sponge to see if this is how they are supposed to taste and it’s just a type of cake that is not for me.

Have you made this recipe? What do you think of not creaming the butter and sugar first?

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