Victoria Sponge Casserole Cake

Victoria Sponge Cake (also known as Victoria Sandwich Cake) is a classic English dessert. Two light and airy layers of buttery cake encompassing a center of velvety vanilla whipped cream and sweet strawberry jam, all topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s a seemingly simple recipe but the art lies in preparation of the batter to create the fluffy texture. There are all kinds of variations on the filling (some prefer vanilla icing over heavy cream) but in an effort to use up some leftover Strawberries and preserve, I decided to make this dessert in one more non-traditional way – as a casserole cake. Several blogs ago, I wrote about my invention of the casserole cake (a true triumph from an almost disaster) and have been itching to play around with new flavours ever since. This dessert is perfect for summer parties, potlucks and picnics as it’s light, sweet and very fresh.

The Cake Batter:

3/4 stick of room temperature butter

3/4 cup of sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 C. Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time taking care to incorporate them well before adding the next one. Slowly fold in the flour just until completely mixed without over beating and removing the air. Separate batter into two 6 inch cake pans. Make a slight well in the center of each pan to ensure the batter doesn’t form a peak in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes (when light golden or bounces back when you gently press with your finger). Set aside to cool. While the cake is in the oven, whip one small container of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of sugar until firm but still fluffy. Dice 5-6 large strawberries and set aside.

Once the cake has cooled, fork out one layer into the bottom of an 9 inch Pyrex dish.

Then sprinkle over the diced strawberries and dribble your favourite strawberry preserve (the better the quality, the more flavourful the cake). I slightly heated my preserve so I could easily control the pour and positioning.

Next, drop spoonfuls of the cream all over the fruit and smooth across the Pyrex forming a thick white layer.

Crumble out the final 6 inch round cake over the cream and dust with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

As I mentioned, this traditional English dessert is supposed to be light and fluffy, and I truly believe that, the little pockets in between the cake crumbs of this casserole version, only enhance the effect. It is a fool-proof version of the original recipe.

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Triumph from disaster- the invention of the casserole cake!

Earlier this fall, two of our friends got engaged and asked me to make a dessert for their celebration. They both love peanut butter and chocolate so I decided to just make a cake with their favourite flavours. As with most things in life, the weekend of their party, I had three other projects I was helping out with so it was going to be busy. I planned and organized my time pretty well to manage everything successfully but there wasn’t much room for error.

I arrived home a few hours before the engagement party and began baking. I don’t generally use cake mixes but under the circumstances and the time crunch, it was the best option. I have found that you can really play with these pre-made mixes to enrich the flavours and make them your own so I added some Hershey’s special dark chocolate chips for great texture and extra chocolatelyness! One thing I don’t compromise on is frosting. I always use homemade because the store-bought kind is made with Crisco and I find the texture and aftertaste an unpleasant one. While the cakes were baking I mixed up a batch of my rich chocolate-peanut buttercream.

In the midst of all the rushing around, I didn’t line my cake tins with parchment paper and so when it came to turning them out, they of course stuck and fell out in pieces. For a moment, I was mortified – with only a couple of hours left, there was no time to make them again so the casserole cake was born! I quickly forked out the first layer into a Pyrex dish and then poured over the buttercream filling, crumbled the second layer of cake, covered with the remaining frosting and topped with crushed Reece’s cups. I happened to have some candy melting chips on hand, so I made some medium-sized chocolate hearts as a topper using a heart mold.

It was delicious and the couple were really happy. I have made it a few time since (on purpose) and have loads of compliments and requests for recipes. It’s a super quick dessert full of rich flavour and this basic technique can be used with any cake and frosting variation.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Casserole Cake:

Cake base:

Use your favourite chocolate cake mix (the fudgy-er the better) and follow the instructions.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cake mix before adding wet ingredients and mix in about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. This helps coat the chips so they stick in the batter and won’t sink to the bottom while in the oven. Add the powedered chips into the cake mix and then separate the mixture evenly into two 9 inch cake pans. Once baked according to the box instructions, let them cool completely.

Peanut Butter buttercream:

1 stick of butter at room temperature and cut into small cubes

2/3 of a pound of sifted confectioners sugar

1/2 cup of sifted  Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder (you can use other dutch processed cocoa powder but I highly recommend this one for the very rich flavour)

1/2 cup of peanut butter (smooth)

2-3 tbsp of boiling water to help everything mix well and be smooth

Mix all the dry ingredients first until combined then make a well in the center for the butter, peanut butter  and hot water. Using a fork, mix together by working in from around the well until all the dry ingredients are just about absorbed. Then use a hand-held (or standing mixer) until the frosting is very smooth (about 7 minutes). If you feel that there is not enough moisture and the buttercream is too stiff, add some milk or more hot water; likewise if it’s too thin, just add more sugar or cocoa powder. You can also add a drop of lemon juice to help cut through the sweetness – you won’t taste it but it helps take the edge off the sugar. Feel free to put in more cocoa powder or peanut butter according to your flavour preferences. The consistency should be just a tiny bit thinner than the store-bought frosting so it will spread easily without sticking to the cake crumbs.

Method:

  •  Fork out one of the cooled cake layers into a large Pyrex dish making sure to remove any lumps. Gently flatten all the crumbs (either by hand or with a spatula) so that it forms an even layer without being too squashed.
  •  Empty half of the buttercream into the middle on top of the cake crumbs. Starting at the center, slowly and patiently work the large mass outwards with a cake spatula until you have reached the edges of the Pyrex dish. This takes a little time but it ensures that you won’t be picking up cake crumbs and getting them mixed into your buttercream.
  •  Repeat A and B for the second layer of cake and the rest of the buttercream.
  •  Put about 8 regular sized Reece’s Cups in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are broken down. If you pulse them too many times, they begin to bind together and become one big lump instead of the crumble texture which  we are going for.
  • Top the Pyrex cake with the broken up Reece’s Cup pieces.

 You can either serve immediately or place in the fridge until needed. I think this would also be amazing just slightly warmed through accompanied with your favourite ice-cream. It makes about twelve decent sized servings.