Chocolate Victoria Sponge. Or What To Make When Your Cooker Blows.

flag-mini-british After making Treacle and Spice Victoria Sponge, I vowed to make the chocolate version next. And I did. And it’s delicious! And easy to make so don’t pass this one up.
Chocolate Victoria sponge closeup
Important reminder: "sponge" = cake.

According to Wikipedia, and a number of Victoria Sponge cake bakers I’ve visited around the internet, Victoria sponges -- because of their sensitivity to cooking times and temperatures -- are baked by oven manufacturers to test their ovens. Maria at Squirrelslarder, from whom I took this chocolate sponge recipe, relates that the British gas board took this culinary measure after her family’s cooker breathed fire upon her mum, vaporizing a bit of her hair. To make sure repair to the gas lines and oven was satisfactory, the gas board ladies baked sponges. I can’t think of a more civilized way to salve the trauma of a malfunctioning oven than to serve up jam-filled cake and tea. It would not surprise me at all to learn that stress levels in the English are far lower than ours.
Chocolate Victoria sponge ingredients
Anyway, don’t be put off by all the apparent sensitivities of Victoria sponge -- I’ve made two of them and although they were not taste-tested by authentically British folk, I can assure you they cooked up a treat and my family had no complaints. I am my worst kitchen critic and even I was most happy with the results.
Chocolate Victoria sponge flour
One thing I love about these British recipes is weighing out the ingredients on my spiffy Escali digital scale. Maria's recipe does include ounce equivalents, which I think you could measure out with a measuring cup, to make your life a little easier. The only problem is my pans are too large -- 9+ inches instead of the required 8” so my two sponge layers are thinner than they should be. But no less tasty!
Chocolate Victoria sponge batter in pans
Chocolate Victoria sponge drop seat jammies
Also, I highly recommend taking the extra time to cut a circle of parchment paper (or waxed, if you don’t have parchment) to make removing the cooked cakes easier. My layers suffered some cracking as I shimmied them from the pan bottom with a thin flexible plastic spatula. I’m beginning to think every cake pan should have a removable bottom. Wouldn’t life be easier if everything had a removable bottom? Like those old fashioned one-piece jammies with the back flap.

Although Maria includes a buttercream filling recipe, I happened to have leftover buttercream frosting, inspired by I Am Baker’s frosting rosettes, which I actually made from the frosting but have yet to blog about. The pretty rosettes actually are quite easy! Oh okay, here's a quick look at them. The cupcakes were strawberry (from the Cake Doctor cookbook) spread with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and topped with the rosettes. For Valentine's Day.
Strawberry chocolate buttercream rosettes
Where was I. Oh yes, I had leftover frosting -- from those very rosettes -- in the freezer. Freezers are fantastic, aren't they? Besides the obvious (ice, ice cream, ice packs) I use mine to preserve tortillas and sliced homemade bread, freeze bananas for smoothies, and save buttercream frosting for sponge cakes. I thawed the frosting and mixed in something like 3-4 tablespoons of Ghirardelli cocoa powder, which resulted in a chocolatey buttercream lightened and fluffed up from all the stirring.
Chocolate Victoria sponge filling
I smoothed a thin layer of buttercream onto the first layer of sponge (the uglier layer) and spread that with homemade (not by me) cherry preserves. Then the second sponge layer, a light dusting of powdered sugar, and ....
Chocolate Victoria sponge ready
Isn’t it pretty? And so simple! This just proves that really good cake does not have to be encased in a cloying armor of frosting. If you don’t want to buy or make buttercream, whipped cream will do and try a layer of your favorite jam or preserves.

The flavor of this sponge is somehow both light and rich (must be all that lovely butter) -- it’s not in-your-face chocolate like Devil’s Food, and almost reminds me of chocolate pudding.
Chocolate Victoria sponge sliced for tea
Served with tea, of course. Or coffee and an episode of Doc Martin or Jewel in the Crown, both of which we happen to be watching at the moment.

Find the Chocolate Sponge recipe (and many other scrumptious treats) at Squirrel's Larder. Cheers!

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.