United Kingdom – Victoria Sponge

My anglophilia is real and I am not ashamed to admit it. My Netflix suggestions list includes nothing but BBC period dramas, I am anxiously awaiting the return of Doctor Who after the disappointment that was season four of Sherlock, in the past two years I have taken multiple two-week vacations to the United Kingdom, and as previously established, I am addicted to Earl Grey tea. Clearly, it was only a matter of time before I attempted to bake a dessert for the Untied Kingdom. Upon the suggestion of my friend Ms. Freya Pitts, and the confirmation of a Google search, I opted to make a victoria sponge sandwich. This dessert consists of two sponge cakes bound together by a layer of raspberry jam and whipped cream. It sounds so simple…

The Bake

It was a rough weekend in the DessEarth household.

I made this recipe three times and each time failed so miserably I wanted to crawl into a dark corner and eat spoonful after spoonful of Nutella (which I am known to do) until the memory of my failure was overwhelmed by a sugar coma. Not consuming the jar of Nutella was one of my many questionable decisions for the weekend.

Attempt #1: Using the Great British Bake Off recipe I followed the simple instructions -even waiting until the butter was truly soft! After 25 minutes in the oven and the apartment having filled up with the wonderful aroma of cake I opened the oven to find my a set of seriously sunken cakes.

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Attempt #2: On the theory that my first set of cakes rose to quickly and collapsed due the oven temperature being too high, I used the same recipe as the first time but lowered the over temperature and took the cakes out after 20 minutes. The result were cakes that looked exactly like my first failures.

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Attempt #3: For my final attempt I used a New York Times recipe. Part of me thought that the friendly Fahrenheit oven temperature and measurements in cups  vs. grams would magically fix all of my prior woes. HA.

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I blame this disaster on the FAKE NEWS, the BBC and NYT, and their fake recipes. Enemy of the people! Alternative fact – the altitude caused the delicate sponges to rise too quickly. Extra alternative fact – I simply have no idea how to make sponge cake.

The Moment of Truth

This is what failure looks like.

(The cover photo is pure trickery, consisting of an extra close-up of two small pieces of the last set of failed cakes, a tablespoon of raspberry jam, and far too much powdered sugar).

The Recipe

For this fantastic failure I used two recipes. The first comes courtesy of the Great British Bake Off and uses self-rising flour, measurements in grams, and an oven temperature that varies based on gas vs. fan ovens. The second is from the New York Times and uses all purpose flour, measurements in cups, and an oven temperature in good-old, used-by-only-US*, Fahrenheit.

Clearly, neither recipe worked for me so I will not replicate them here for failure of leading others into the depressing state of sinking-cake-syndrome.

*Technically not true. Fahrenheit is also the official scale of the Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, and the United States and its freely associating states.

Fun Fact

Alcohol is prohibited in Parliament with one exception: the Chancellor of the Exchequer may drink when presenting the annual budget. Seems appropriate.

Bonus Fact: As of 2001, 6,000 people per year get hurt after tripping over their pants or falling down stairs while trying to put them on.

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