One of the wonderful Christmas presents I received this year was the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook from my dear friend Hanna. For those of you that are Harry Potter fans (it’s gotta be, what, 80% of the fortunate literate population?), you know what kind of a gift this is. And this delicious jam cake is just one of many magical recipes!
If I may quote the overly quoted quote of Ron Weasley: “Wicked”.
Perhaps you wonder why, of all the imaginative recipes in a Harry Potter Cookbook, would one select a rather simple jam sandwich cake? Because I freaking love jam and so does my other dear friend, Catherine, for whose birthday this cake was made.
Believe me, I will get to those Treacle Tarts.
As you can probably see, this cake was quite imperfect. The density threw me for a loop, despite the author’s warning that “sponge” is far from accurately descriptive. Indeed, she writes:
The name “sponge” is misleading because it’s actually a dense, rich cake, not an airy fluffy sponge.
Pretty straightforward. Yet, I panicked when my supposed cake dough looked much more like that of cookies. I don’t know about all the other bakers and cooks out there, but doubt is the greatest contributor to my culinary failures. That and impatience, chuckle.
But I’ve recently (new year recently) decided to quit the questions and create confidence! So I ultimately ignored my uncertainty and whipped up a darn tasty cake, if I do say so myself. Still odd in the slanted layers and (it’s true) cookie-like density, but a reassuringly appreciated birthday present. Whew!
In regards to the Harry Potter relevance of this cake, Bucholz gives us some context:
Ah, sweet revenge! The summer that Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia put Dudley on a strict diet, Harry revels in the knowledge of the good food hidden upstairs in his room while Dudley starves in the kitchen. When Harry informs his friends of the severe diet imposed on the whole family, they loyally send him fabulous birthday cakes (see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 3).
Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake (from Ron)
total time: 45 minutes to an hour
makes one lovely cake
recipe from Dinah Bucholz’s The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tblsp) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam (I definitely eyeballed this)
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- optional whipped cream for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer of some kind, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until well incorporated.
- Add the flour on the lowest speed until combined; scoop in the excess around the bowl and fold the batter together with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans (*this is where I struggled – if you do, too, just know that the idea is to distribute the batter as equally as possible, but it’ll still taste smashing in the end!).
- Bake for 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown around the edges (the tops will be pale). They will feel soft but set when touched lightly in the center, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I’m sorry but…a little dirty. Am I right?)
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wired rack to cool completely.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake on a cardboard round top-side down and spread with the raspberry jam all the way to the edges. Top with the second cake, top-side up, and dust generously with powdered sugar.
- Serve with whipped cream and have it with tea!
Willy, too, is a fan of jam. He’s a jam-fan.