This Traditional Vanilla Sponge Cake is light and fluffy, filled with delicious vanilla syrup and buttercream and topped with the freshest, ripest berries – we couldn’t ask for a better cake to help us celebrate our 1 year anniversary. By Ketta Shimmin
I’ve been a mum much longer than I’ve run a cake business, but I’ve definitely been a cake maker since I became a mother.
Cake is such an integral part of being a parent: my first real foray into cake design was a higgledy-piggledy cupcake tower for my eldest daughter’s first birthday. The following year, another first birthday cake, this time for my second daughter, and the models of Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy took the best part of a week of evenings to make. I still have photos of the kitchen after the hours spent (and at least 3 gin and tonics consumed) constructing a fairy castle cake for another second birthday, which I can also pinpoint as when my true passion for baking cakes was born.
Last week, during the third week of the long Easter holidays, I had three orders to complete and the small matter of my youngest daughter’s seventh birthday cake to create. Sure enough, 10 years into this parenting lark, and four years into running my business, I’m still up at 1am finishing a birthday cake!
Although staying up until the small hours is a rite of passage for some parents, sometimes you simply can’t afford to miss more sleep and still function, so here’s a simple, basic but really effective recipe for your cake repertoire – useful as the basis for more complicated birthday cakes, parties, cake competitions, bake sales, unexpected guests and hormonal sugar cravings!
Makes 25 portions depending on how you cut your cake.
- 300g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 300g caster sugar
- 6 large free-range eggs
- 300g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 500g icing sugar
- 2-4 tbsp vanilla sugar syrup (see below)
- 75g caster sugar
- 75ml boiling water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ jar (approximately 200g) strawberry or seedless raspberry jam
- Mint leaves and fresh berries to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 (160C for fan ovens)
- Line two 20cm (8”) round cake tins with greaseproof paper
- Using a stand mixer or electric hand whisk, beat the butter and sugar together for at least 5 minutes, or until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat well
- Beat in the vanilla extract and fold in the flour.
- Divide between the two cake tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Set aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile make the frosting and syrup.
- Place the sugar and vanilla essence in a heatproof container, pour over the boiling water then stir until completely dissolved.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy, adding syrup a tablespoon at a time until soft, white and light.
- Once your sponges are completely cooled, place the bottom layer of the cake on a board or flat plate.
- Trim off any high dome with a sharp knife and, using a pastry brush, moisten the top cake with syrup then spread with buttercream followed by a generous layer of jam.
- Trim the dome of the second sponge with a long sharp knife, again moisten the cake with the syrup then place, cut side down, on top of the bottom layer.
- Spread the top of the cake with buttercream and pipe a pretty border (if you have the time or inclination!) and finish with mixed berries, mint leaves and a dusting of icing sugar.
Ketta Shimmin is the founder of Flossie Pops Cakery, a bespoke cake business located in the beautiful Weald of Kent, and a regular contributor to Meals Our Kids Love! She lives with her husband Rob, daughters Evie, Floss and Clara, and naughty cocker spaniel, Bailey. Read more about Ketta on our About page.