Saturday, November 22, 2014

Baking a gluten free victoria sponge

As a keen baker I believe the victoria sponge is core to cake skills.  Baking a victoria sponge with a new flour is a good way of discovering how the flour behaves - like a baking benchmark.  Once mastered and understood, this allows you to branch out into the more ambitious bakes.

The Dove Farm flour is good and is ready mixed.  The recipe on the back of the self raising flour was pretty much for a classic sponge, though they use milk as the liquid. The only difference I made was that instead of the recommended tablespoons of milk, I used warm water.  I have always used a splash of warm water in my sponge cakes – my mother did it, so I do too.  I wash around the empty egg bowl and throw it in at the end. It produces a lighter cake with a more open texture than with using milk.

So, I made a two egg sponge.  It took 25 minutes to cook as it was very liquid, which is probably about 5 minutes longer than usual.  The result was an extremely tasty and good cake that I would be happy to serve up for tea.  It was not as light as my usual wheat cakes, so I  might be inclined to follow the Mary Berry approach and beat the eggs in the mixture before adding the flour.  The recipe DID recommend this, but I have never done it in my life – I gently tip egg and flour simultaneously which usually works beautifully.  But in recognition that this might need a little more lift, I shall try it next time. I might also try a dash of milk which might make the cake slightly more cohesive – it is definitely more crumbly than the wheat laden classic.

I added vanilla in very small quantities to the cake as I was not sure of the flavour of the flour, but might try without another time as I think the flavour comes from the lovely butter.

So here is my first cake and I was happy with it.  A slight tweak next time and life moves on with cake in it!

It is a simple 2 egg sponge:

2 eggs
4 oz sugar
4 oz butter (the best unsalted possible - I use Sainsbury's So Organic or Yeo Valley)
4 oz SR flour (I used Doves Farm SR flour and I recommend it)
approx. 2 tbspn warm water

Beat the sugar and butter until it is really fluffy and goes pale in colour (I have a Kenwood Chef, but you can do this by hand - warm the bowl, keep going til your arm is sore!)
Beat the eggs and then gently add a little egg and a little flour alternately, mixing gently
wash round the egg bowl with the warm water and add to the mixture.
Spoon into a buttered and floured cake tin and cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is springy.  A usual sponge of this size would take about 20-22 minutes, but it seems to take a little longer with the gluten free flour, possibly because of the extra moisture.

Leave in tin to cool and then fill with delicious strawberry jam and shake sugar over the top

Like this:

I gave this cake to my non-coeliac family without telling them it was GF and they did not notice - that is a good sign!

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