One of my Christmas gifts to myself (aren’t they the best ones?) was this very cool 12 cup mini sandwich tin.
Yes, I do realise that in most social circles I couldn’t really get away with using the word ‘cool’ to describe a baking tin but I figure I’m safe with you, my fellow foodies. Anyway, the beauty of this tin is that all the bases are loose, and the sides straight, making it it easy to create a whole bunch of mini treats – and we all know about my feelings towards all things mini.
I originally planned to christen the tin with a batch of mini baked cheesecakes but when a copy of The Great British Bake Off cookbook (including a recipe for “the perfect Victoria Sandwich”) appeared in my Christmas stocking, that plan quickly went out the window.
When researching I discovered that the recipe for classic Victoria sponge is a pretty fixed formula – 2, 3 or 4 eggs depending on the size of cake you want to make and then equal measures of flour, butter and sugar matching the weight of the eggs. And usually a little vanilla extract and milk.
The methods don’t vary much either so you may be wondering what it is about this recipe that enables it to promise the perfect Victoria sandwich? Well, it’s all in the details. The recipe is packed with helpful tips, the kind that are probably obvious to a seasoned baker but save a relative novice like me from tripping up every step of the way on my quest for baking success.
I have adapted the quantities and method to make 12 mini Victoria sponges using the Lakeland tin (and to include cream!) but I definitely recommend you read the original recipe which is up online here. If you’re not in the UK I have found similar tins online in the US (Mini Cheesecake & Tartlette Pan) and Australia (Mini Dessert Tray). I also saw some on eBay.Mini Victoria Sponges (makes 12) (adapted from The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake the Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets by Linda Collister)
For the sponge:175g unsalted butter* 175g caster sugar* 175g self-raising flour* 3 eggs ½ tsp vanilla extract ¾ tbsp milk 2 tbsp icing sugar (to decorate) For the filling: 150g good quality strawberry jam 125g whipping cream * Alter the flour, butter and sugar measurements to match the weight of the eggs
Get the eggs, milk and butter out the fridge about 1 hour in advance so they are at room temperature when you start. At this point you can also cut circles of baking parchment to line each hole in the tin.
Cut a piece of parchment measuring 20cm x 36cm and fold into thirds so you end up with one strip that is 36cm long. Then, fold the strip over itself a few times so that you end up with a square measuring approx. 7cm x 7cm (if you opened up the paper and laid it out flat you would have 15 squares). Place one of the loose bottoms from the pan on top of the square of parchment and cut around it. Place one circle in each of the holes.
Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Sift the flour and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter using an electric beater for one minute, then slowly add the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy and almost white. Put the eggs in a small bowl with the vanilla and use a fork to lightly break them up.
Gradually add this mixture to the sugar and butter, about a tablespoon at a time. It is better to use a spoon rather than pouring it in as it is easier to control the amount of liquid going into the bowl. Beat the mixture well after each addition and repeat until all the egg mixture has been incorporated – about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl frequently during this process and if the mixture looks like it is going to curdle at any point add a tablespoon of the sifted flour (if the mixture curdles you will lose some of the air you have worked so hard to beat in!)
Sift (again) half of the flour, into the butter, egg and sugar mixture and gently fold it in using a large metal spoon. When you almost can’t see any of the flour, sift in the rest of the flour, add the milk, and fold until you can’t see any flour in the mixture. Check that there are no clumps of flour at the bottom of the bowl. Your mixture will be quite thick.
Spoon the mixture into the pan, filling each hole up two thirds of the way. You will probably have a little bit of mixture left over which I just used to make a few little cupcakes. Don’t be tempted to overfill the holes as they will overflow!
Carefully spread the mixture evenly so it comes to the edges and make a slight dip in the centre if you don’t want them to have a peak in the middle (as you can see I didn’t do this!) Bake for 15-20 minutes and do not open the oven door!
While you’re waiting you can beat the cream until it is nice and thick (about 5 minutes) and put it in the fridge. Keep an eye on the cakes and once they are a nice golden brown, stick a skewer into the centre of one of them. If it comes out clean (or almost clean) take them out and leave them to cool for a minute or two before popping them out onto a cooling tray.
Once they have cooled, carefully cut the individual cakes in half and spread the bottom half with jam then place a dollop of cream in the middle which will spread when you put on the top half. Don’t be tempted to add loads of cream if you’re seeking to impress your guests as it will squirt out everywhere (but if you’re enjoying a sneaky little treat on your own, go for it!)
Dust with icing sugar and serve. Best enjoyed the same day. Doilies optional.
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