Vanilla Sponge

Simple is often best. No mucking around, just a sweet, gravity-defyingly light sponge with cream and berries. This is our family favourite and, although simple, it is delicious.

Tip: I coat the flour in butter doing the initial stage, which inhibits the development of gluten and produces a soft crumb. There are fewer air pockets created by creaming, but this is compensated for with a large dose of baking powder. As very little gluten is formed to build structure, this is quite a delicate cake, so just be careful with the baking time and be sure to check your temperature. Also make sure the dry ingredients are whisked together first, as this is crucial for the final result. Happy baking.

Prep tim: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Seves 8-10

330g plain flour, sifted
320 caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
175g unsalted butter, room temp
3 eggs
190ml whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 23cm cake tins, greased and lined

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC fan assisted/ gas mark 6

2. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Beat in the butter until it is incorporated and the mixture appears to be evenly coated and looks like a fine crumb mix – 2-3 mins on medium speed should do it

3. Add the egg and beat, first on medium then on high, just until incorporated

4. Add the milk and vanilla and beat, on medium and then on high, until the mix is smooth and combined; it will appear a bit lighter in colour

5. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and level out the edges. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins before turning out onto wire trays for to cool completely

6. You can then get creative with your filling and decoration. I like to spread vanilla butter cream in the middle with a smattering of fresh fruit and them cover the top in more butter cream, some fruit coulis and fresh fruit and flaked almonds.

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