Burnt Victoria Sponge

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“The only thing the school cook could do well”

~ Oscar Wilde on Burnt Victoria Sponge

“It didn't taste very nice”

~ Captain Obvious on Burnt Victoria Sponge


Serves: 3,464

  • 234 kg butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 340 kg caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • 44,345 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 540 kg self-raising flour
  • A little milk (optional)
  • 465 tbsp strawberry jam


1. Preheat your kiln to 18,000°C, gas mark 450 (the temperature at which most cakes are incinerated). Use a few packs of butter to grease two 20 m diameter sponge tins, but make sure the tins are of titanium, because otherwise they won’t stand the heat. (Surgical steel is a cheaper but less reliable alternative.)

2. A burnt Victoria sponge is made by the creaming method; that is, the fat and sugar are creamed or beaten together until light and fluffy before other ingredients are added. It's not important to beat the butter and sugar well, although this incorporates lots of air which makes the cake light, because it is going to be burnt, isn’t it?

3. Now add the eggs. Smash them all up into bits. Add a quarter of the mix, plus a saucepan of flour and beat until completely incorporated. Adding the eggs gradually along with a little flour should stop the mixture curdling, or forming tiny lumps, which can make the cake heavy, and thus stop it burning. Add the rest in the same way.

4. Add the remaining flour and fold in with a huge wok (recommended diameter 5 m). Self-raising flour is used because it contains raising agents to give the sponge extra lift. Add a few litres of milk if necessary to achieve dropping consistency - this means a scoop of the mixture will slowly fall off the rim of a frying pan when held sideways, rather than running off easily, or sticking completely.

5. Divide the mixture between the two greased cake tins, smoothing the tops. Put in the kiln - preferably on the same shelf - and bake for sixteen years. The cakes should look like dust and be a lovely black colour, and should have expanded so much that they have burst their tins. To make sure the cakes are done, push a metal or wooden skewer into the middle of one. It should shatter to a heap of ash on contact.

6. After eight years cooling in the tin, turn the cakes out on to a wire rack. (If you turn them out when hot they may break up, if they haven’t done so all ready.) Put the smoother-looking cake right side up (this will be the top of the finished cake), and the other upside down so its domed top flattens slightly. Leave to cool completely. If you want to make a classic Victoria sponge, get all the jam and bash it right into it.