Cut Victoria Sponge plated nicely

Opinion Post – Week 1 RomBakeOff

I have done opinion posts before but this series is going to be of a different nature. I hope you enjoy!

One of the things I really enjoy about Twitter is how it has enabled me to discover within the romance community how many other people I share multiple common interests with. A significant portion of the people I tweet with on a regular basis also love food, its creation, and discovery. Some of us chatter excitedly about the Great British Baking Show or Great British Bake Off (GBBO) and quote phrases from the judges Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood not to mention the hosts and the competitors themselves. Others of us share pictures of the foodporn we have created or will be consuming. Bits of trivia, cooking advice, recommendations, and suggestions fly around frequently.

So when Carrie Ann Ryan and Zoe Archer started talking about challenging themselves to try some of the Technical Challenges a few others got excited, and before I knew it we had a schedule, Bakes, Recipes and a hashtag #RomBakeOff. Check out Carrie’s post on her website for a fabulous introduction. Please follow along on Twitter, our respective websites, and Instagram as we document and laugh with our attempts to produce the perfect bake. No soggy bottoms, no under or over proofing, no raw dough in the middle, good color, good texture, and above all good flavor!

Cut Victoria Sponge plated nicely
Looks delicious

I will be posting an opinion post of a different kind on the weekends we have a bake documenting my experience and inviting you to join me as I laugh at my results, cheer my successes, and make notes for future changes should I decide to make the bake again. I have an additional challenge because I will be making as many of them Gluten Free (GF) as possible which brings additional mental math, uncertainty, and wild leaps of faith.

**Admin note: I will put some of the details behind spoiler tags to try to keep the posts to a manageable length.**

This weekend marked our first challenge – Mini Victoria Sponges. Unlike the Technical Challenge, we will actually get the complete recipe and as much prep time as we decide to take. We started with this recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s perfect Victoria Sandwich. It calls for making a quick strawberry jam, mini Victoria Sponges, whipping cream, and assembling them together. Immediately I started thinking about what I would do with this basic recipe.

Scale, strawberries, cranberries, sugar, orange, cinnamon, vanilla beanDon’t get me wrong, I love strawberry jam, but this is mid-to late November, I would be cooking in December and strawberries just aren’t at their best this time of year. I also knew I would have to add pectin to make the jam actually set and I didn’t want to play with pectin, it can be tricky. [spoiler]So I started thinking about what fruits contained pectin naturally and would also go with strawberries. Every year one of the things I

Jam in pot with candy thermometer
A watched pot never boils.
tend to make is a spiced cranberry sauce, cranberries jell without any added pectin so that went on my list. Then as I looked around, I saw I had a surplus of oranges so I decided to see if strawberry, cranberry, and orange jam was possible.[/spoiler] After employing my Google-fu I decided to give this recipe a try. It smelled wonderful while cooking and I had to give it a try. Plain it was delicious, spread on buttermilk pancakes it was sublime so I decided at least one part of my Technical Challenge was a success!

Next I had to turn to the sponge recipe. It called for self-raising flour so thankfully one of the participants looked up how to make it. This turned into an interesting discussion about making self-raising or self-rising flour and the differences between US and UK versions (salt/no-salt, amount of leavening). With that firmly in mind I started looking up GF recipes. Sponge ingredients prepped[spoiler]Thankfully most of them appeared to keep the same ratio of flour, fat, and sugar as the original recipe. However, none of them mentioned self-raising/rising flour but they included differing amounts of baking powder. Two ingredients I didn’t see included were salt or xantham gum (needed to replace structure provided by gluten. During a discussion with my mom aka Ninja_Mom she mentioned how the base recipe called for unsalted butter and didn’t include any stand alone salt.[/spoiler] I decided to create a US version of self-rising GF flour and add xantham gum for structure.

Oven preheating, everything measured, and my pan prepped it was time to start baking. I whisked together my self-rising GF Flour blend and xantham gum. Then after following the standard recipe’s instructions, the finished dough looked good to me and the bit I tasted after filling my tin seemed to have the right texture/flavor for a cake to me. Once the bake when in the oven all I could do was cross my fingers and hope.

Victoria sponges rising over the top of the tin
Oh no! Muffin tops are developing
I started getting worried as I sat on the floor in front of the oven and realized I had overfilled my tins. I was developing a muffin top on every single one! They also required a bit longer to cook because they were so full so the edges got a bit browner then I wanted.
Sponges out the oven, little over brown
Looking a little brown…

Sponge bottom half with whipped cream
Piping the cream
Once the cakes were cool it was time to fill. The original recipe said to drizzle the jam over the dots of whipped cream.
Split Victoria Spong with cream and jam
Cream and Jam
Well I made my jam to the texture I like so, this required rewarming and thinning with orange juice so I could gently dab it onto the cake.
12 Mini GF Victoria Sponge Cake-Muffins displayed on a tray

Whole sponge and tea
Presented to the judges
I ended up being really happy with my finished product even though I call them my Gluten-Free Mini Victoria Sponge Cake-Muffins.
Half of victoria sponge left with crumbs
[spoiler]GF Sponge Ingredient list:
6oz unsalted butter
6oz caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
6oz GF Flour blend (I use America’s Test Kitchen)
1 & 1/2 tsp xantham gum
2 & 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp salt

Hint: Don’t fill your tins to the top they need room to expand in the tin without overflowing if you want to avoid the muffin top.[/spoiler]

I will be back next week with Tartes au Citron. Wish me luck!

7 thoughts on “Opinion Post – Week 1 RomBakeOff”

  1. Wow, looks like you had a lot of fun and the jam sounds ultra yummy. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading your next post.

  2. These were so much fun to make. Thank you for encouraging me to join in on the adventure. Your results look beautiful.

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