A classic vanilla sponge can be transformed into any number of things from a birthday cake to an impressive school cake sale masterpiece.
Alternatively, if you want to keep it simple, fill with jam and whipped cream and dust the top with icing sugar. This will certainly give you a thumbs up from your grandma!
Makes 20cm/8in cake
Preparation Time 25 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
For the cake
- 225g/8oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 225g/8oz/scant 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted, plus 1tbsp extra for dusting
- 225g/8oz/scant 1cup caster sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
For the butter icing
- 200g/7oz unsalted butter, softened
- 400g/14oz/scant 3 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- food colouring (optional)
- 4-5 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam
- Your choice of cake decorations, sprinkles or candles (be as elaborate as you wish)
1) Preheat the oven to 180c/250f/gas 4. Grease two 20cm/8in cake tins with butter and lightly dust with flour.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract, using an electric mixer, for a good few minutes until the mixture is wonderfully light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each one to prevent the mixture from curdling. Fold in the remaining flour with a metal spoon until you have a soft, smooth cake batter.
3) Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and level the tops with a spatula. Make a slight dip in the centre to ensure that the cake is flat once cooked. Bake for about 20 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed gently with a finger and are pale golden in colour.
4) Leave to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5) To make the butter icing, beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract, using an electric mixer, until it is really light and creamy. Add a few drops of food colouring, if you like, and beat it in well.
6) Sandwich the cakes together with a layer of jam and some butter icing, then use the rest of the butter icing to decorate the top and sides, along with whatever else you choose to use. Serve with a flourish.
Extracted from Madhouse Cookbook by Jo Pratt