My Mum’s cakes were quite well known in Bristol. We ran a small café in Westbury-on-Trym called Bristol 9. We sold lots of homemade goodies including cupcakes, flapjacks and toffee shortbread, but by far the most popular of all these treats were the giant cakes. These big cakes were made in a variety of different flavours – banana and sultana, chocolate fudge, coffee and walnut, cappuccino, white chocolate fudge, half and half (half white choc, half milk choc), carrot, lemon and the classic victoria sponge. We were known for our cakes being on the large side and used to serve, what our customers called, a wedge of cake and a cuppa for £2.50 – bargain!
As well as baking all of our own cakes for our place we made and delivered to lots of cafes in and around Bristol with me as chief cake delivery driver. I’d load up the cakes in my electric blue Renault Clio, pick up my best friend Sarah from down the road and spend Saturday mornings doing a mass cake drop off, circulating the whole of Bristol.
I have very fond memories of this time especially going into one particular café (not to be named) where my best friend and I rather liked the waiter, a tanned dreadlocked man named Tom. We used to fight as to who would go in to see him each week. We later found out that whilst ordering the cakes from my mum he called us ‘the children who dropped off the cakes’. Our dreams were crushed.
We made our cakes using margarine, for two reasons; when you’re making cakes on mass scale it’s cheaper than butter, especially nowadays, and secondly it’s so much easier to beat together – even if you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge the night before! Also from trying the recipe out recently I find the sponge has a much lighter texture than a sponge made with butter. I know that margarine is not meant to be good for us, but back then the health implications weren’t as widely talked about. This recipe works just as well using real butter too, just make sure it’s super soft.
450g Margarine Or Butter
450g Caster sugar
450g Self –raising flour
8 eggs (Medium)
1tsp Vanilla extract
Dash of milk
250g Margarine or Butter
500g Icing sugar
1tsp Vanilla extract
Method Oven 180c
- Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
- Beat the margarine or butter, sugar and vanilla in a very large bowl and cream well.
- Add the two eggs and beat, then add a quarter of the flour and beat. Continue to do this until all the eggs and flour are combined.
- Sieve in the cocoa and mix until combined, then add the milk and do the same.
- Separate mixture into the two cake tins, giving one of them very slightly more than the other (when assembling later the smaller can go on top).
- Bake in the oven for about 30 mins or until the sponge springs back up when lightly pressed.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes then turn out and place on cooling rack. Once completely cooled it is ready to be filled with the icing.
- To make the butter icing – mix the margarine or butter with half of the icing sugar and beat, then add the other half along with the cocoa and beat again.
- To assemble the cake choose the bigger of the two halves for the bottom and place on a plate or cake stand bottom side up. Add half the butter icing and spread evenly then place other half of cake on top. Smooth the rest of the butter icing on the top and then decorate!
NB: *You might need to even out the bottom cake so that it sits flat onto the plate. Do this by using a serrated knife to slice off the top, which will make it flat.
*You can use a 23cm tin if you prefer, depending on what you have.