A whisk worth taking!
So hands up, how many of you have ever thought you were baking a better sponge by hand mixing? I've heard it said so many times, albeit from a couple of Women's Institute baking pedants, that using an electric whisk affects the lightness of your final cake. But is this right? Yes you need air to get into the batter as you don't want a brick of a sponge, but let's see just if there is any truth on this.
Using my trusty Victoria sponge recipe, I will mix half by hand (wooden spoon) and the other half with an electric hand beater - but folding the flour in by hand as using an electric mixer for that is obviously baking suicide.
If you fancy trying my fail-safe recipe you'll need the oven on at Gas 5 (190C) and two 8" greased-up cake tins with a disc of baking parchment in the base. Or you can of course spoon it into fairy cake moulds.
200g butter (not marge)
200g caster sugar
200g sifted self-raising flour
teaspoon of vanilla extract (not the essence) or you can strip a vanilla pod.
4 free-range medium eggs
pinch of salt - no idea why, but I think it helps bring out the vanilla
So I mixed half of the softened butter and sugar in one bowl with a wooden spoon till it went pale - it's tough work - then beat in two eggs, one at a time. I added the vanilla and salt then folded the flour in with a big metal spoon. It looked all right. Then I spooned it into six cake cases. I repeated this with the electric beater, but not the flour part of the process and put the batter in the other cases (making sure I knew which was which of course).
Then I cooked them in the preheated oven for 20 mins.
Okay, blind testing them on my family and we'll soon know whether those two ladies from the WI are right or not.
Well, they're not, there is absolutely no difference between them at all. Both light, moist and with a hint of crisp on the top. So if I were you, I would save yourself an awful lot of time by going electric.
My next mission will be whether adding oil to your boiling pasta pan makes the blindest bit of difference.
Not sure I like the bad mouthing of WI 'pedants'........
......in a nation that is apparently falling by the culinary wayside both in substance & in skills, any body of people who promote home-cooking & food quality should be lauded rather than mocked in my view.
I am a long time WI member (who incidentally uses both methods for making Sponges) & have taken courses run by the 'pedants' (the best way to know if it's right to 'cheat' is to know how to do a thing properly in the first place or how else can you judge if it's a success?), but am also on the WI catering team for a large County Show (who make all the cakes from scratch in a large marquee on grass!.....definately no room for pedantry there).
If you would ever like to join us.............please do, you would be very welcome.
The fact that our customers beat a path to our door way before we have got it open does bear testimony to the quality, if not the occasional poe-facedness, of our baking!!!
WI is a wonderful thing, I'm not saying all WI are pedants and I'm certainly not mocking, just some within the Institute that I have baked with are sticklers for the manual method (they let me help for the day!!).
I would love to join you at one of your marquee events and bring my spoon!
I am a grea freind on the electrical mixer these days , seems to work fine for me , the days of creaming the butter and sugar together with a woden spoon have gone for me .
From what I understand, the WI version is the traditional recipe and the creaming part with a wooden spoon sets this cake apart from the way similar sponge cakes are made in other countries which is more often with electric mixers. As someone who isn't familiar with the original British Victoria sponge cake, I appreciate having access to the original recipe and method, for the sake of understanding how it differs from other similar sponge cakes and it's a nice bit of history to preserve.
Having said that, I love using appliances to save work in the kitchen. I would have chosen a paddle over a whisk though, which is better for not incorporating air, I believe, isn't it?