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Why Did My Victoria Sponge Not Rise When Baked?

Asked by jacquelinedent. Answered on 16th June 2022

Full question

I made the Victoria Sponge cake and it wasn't a success at all. It didn't rise much, was dense and and shrank from the sides of the tin. I regularly make cakes and this is my first unsuccessful one. Why did this happen?

Image of Nigella's Victoria Sponge
Photo by Nigella
Victoria Sponge
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's Victoria Sponge is a classic sponge cake filled with fruit, jam and whipped cream. It should be light, with a fine crumb and soft texture. A cake slightly shrinking from the sides of the tin is often an indiction that it is completely baked, but if the shrinking is excessive then it can be a sign that the cake batter was over mixed, so try not to beat or process the cake batter for too long. There can also be several other reasons why a cake didn't rise when baked.

Make sure that all of the ingredients are at room temperature. If the ingredients are at different temperatures then they may not combine properly and the cake will be dense. If the eggs are stored in the fridge then remove them several hours before using, so they are properly at room temperature. Butter should be soft enough that when you press your finger on it it leaves an indentation, but be careful not to let the butter get too warm as if it is very soft then it can become oily and cause the cake to be heavy. Preheat the oven before you start, so that the cake can be baked as soon as it has been mixed. Check the baking powder, to make sure that it is still within the "best before" date and make sure that the flours, baking powder and salt are thoroughly whisked (or sifted) together so that the baking powder is evenly distributed.

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