As a philosophical, but rather uncommitted republican, following the jubilee celebration I thought there was nothing I should do more than provide you with my view of how to make the classic British sponge cake named after our longest serving monarch – the Victoria Sponge.
Now there are many things that you might be able to do without scales, but cake, surely not. Again, in a Michelin restaurant i expect exacting perfection! There they can weigh each cake to the microgram, but at home, a cake is perfectly possible without the use of scales. This is where the Americans have it right. They use cups to measure their ingredients, easily available at cookery shops or online, and this gives a home cook the power to learn the ratios of ingredients even when baking.
Victoria Sponge by Eye
1 pack of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 cups self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
1-2 tbl milk
Turn the oven to 180C or 165C if fan assisted. Lightly grease a cake tin or two.
Start with the butter soft at room temperature. Add the sugar and mix with an electric whisk until it is light and fluffy. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and add slowly to the mixture. This avoids it curdling which can leave you with a slightly heavier cake (something that can be desirable when filling certain cakes). Once mixed add the flour and baking powder and fold it in with a metal spoon making sure it is well incorporated. At this stage, judge how soft the mixture is, add 1-2 table spoons of milk if needed to get it to a dropping consistency (it just about falls of a spoon). Either put half the cake mixture in each tin or all of it into one.
Cook for 20-25 minute for two cakes, or 45-50 minutes for one. Check the cakes a few minutes before they are due with a small skewer. If it comes out clean and hot the cake is cooked, if not keep it cooking until it does. Once it is out of the oven, let it cool a little and then turn it onto a cooling rack.
And that is that. Very simple, very easy cake cooked without scales. This something that you could replicate even without a cup to measure it with after a few goes.