Monday 18 April 2011

Victoria Sponge Gets 21st Century Royal Wedding Make-Over

It's the Easter holidays so I'll definitely be doing lots of baking with the girls. Victoria sponge is always a favourite so I loved this press release, telling us all about the origins of the Victoria sponge and also giving a special updated version in honour of the royal wedding.


To celebrate Kate Middleton’s admission into the Royal family as wife of Prince William, a regal treat is being given a special wedding make-over – Britain’s most famous cake, the 160-year-old Victoria Sponge, is being given a 21st Century twist.

Originally created by Queen Victoria’s lady-in-waiting, the Duchess of Bedford, British cooker manufacturer Stoves has traced a living descendent of the Duchess to give a modern twist to Britain’s most famous cake ahead of the Royal wedding next month.

Julia Speare-Cole is the great-great-great-great-niece of Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, lifelong friend of Queen Victoria – it was the Duchess who created a sponge cake with jam and cream for the Queen who favoured a slice of cake with her afternoon tea, and so the Victoria Sponge was born.

Julia has teamed up with Stoves celeb chef Brian Turner to create the Catherine Sponge which uses some of Kate’s favourite ingredients: marshmallow, passion fruit and champagne, as well as sea salt from Anglesey - the island she will live on with Prince William when married.

Stoves chef Brian Turner said: “To celebrate the latest addition to the Royal family, we’ve given the 160-year-old Victoria Sponge a modern day make-over in honour of the bride-to-be.

“We’ve picked ingredients enjoyed by Kate, so we hope it meets with her approval.”

Julia Speare-Cole, a London-based osteopath, said: “Thanks to my great-great-great-great-aunt, the Victoria Sponge is one of the country’s most famous cakes, if the Catherine Sponge becomes half as famous, I’m sure my ancestor would be very pleased.”

Catherine Sponge Recipe


150ml Champagne

1 vanilla pod (optional)

300g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

350g sugar

6 eggs (medium)

200g gluten free flour

100g ground almonds

1 tbs gluten free baking powder

1 tsp salt


• Preheat oven to 180 C (170 C fan oven) or gas mark 5

• Prepare two round baking tins (8 inch/20.5 cm diameter) by greasing with a little butter and lining the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Dust with a little flour being sure to remove any excess flour.

• Place the Champagne, sugar and vanilla pod in a small saucepan and slowly bring to boil, swirling the pan to make sure the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to boil and simmer over low heat until the liquid is reduced to about 3 tbs. Leave to cool while you make the cake.

• Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir through gently to combine.

• Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well with each addition. The mixture should resemble mayonnaise. Using a large metal spoon add the flour and almond mixture and combining gently. Do not overmix. Add the Champagne reduction and mix through.

• Gently pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Bake for about 20- 25 minutes until the cake is lightly golden and just set. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Run a clean palette knife around the edges and invert the tin. The cake should release from the tin easily. Leave to cool completely before assembling.

Passion Fruit Marshmallow Filling


230g caster sugar

115ml Champagne

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

3 egg whites (medium)

Pinch of Anglesey sea salt

55g (about 8 large) white marshmallows*

2 tbs milk

3 tbs fresh passion fruit juice (you will need about 4 passion fruits)


• In a small saucepan combine the marshmallows and milk and heat gently, stirring the mixture until the marshmallows are melted. Once melted add the passion fruit juice and stir through.

• In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and champagne. Swirl gently to dissolve the sugar over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved you can boil the mixture until it reaches soft ball (240 C) on a thermometer.

• Whilst the sugar is boiling, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.

• When the sugar syrup has reached the correct temperature, add the marshmallow mixture and stir through until combined. Put the mixture back on the heat and boil rapidly until it reaches 240 C (soft ball) again. Transfer the sugar mixture into a pouring jug.

• Place the electric hand whisk in the stiff egg whites and switch on to medium power. Steadily and slowly pour in the syrup. The mixture should go soft, glossy and billowy. Avoid pouring the syrup on the beaters as this will harden the syrup and make the filling go grainy. If the mixture becomes too stiff, just add a little hot water, no more than a teaspoon at a time.

• Put the mixture in the fridge for one-two hours to firm

• Note on Marshmallows: If possible avoid the little marshmallows which are used for decorating cakes and biscuits.

Passion Fruit Curd


3 egg yolks

80g caster sugar

50ml passion fruit juice (approximately 10 passion fruits or passion fruit juice)

35g unsalted butter


• Strain the egg yolks into a bowl.

• Add the sugar and the passion fruit juice. Mix well.

• Pour this into a medium saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

• The amount of cooking time will depend on the type of saucepan used so allow anywhere from 5- 15 minutes.

• Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will be ruined.

• When the mixture is thick enough, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a little at a time.

• Refrigerate for one-two hours before decorating cake


• Spread a layer of the passion fruit curd on top of one of the sponges

• Add a thick layer of marshmallow filling on top of the curd

• Sandwich together with the second sponge

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