Whip the batter for a long time to make your cake fluffier.
Here's a great recipe from Pam Anderson's "Perfect One-Dish Dinners
" (Houghton Mifflin, $32) in which you can let your creativity run wild. Who wouldn't like a spongy cake with raspberry filling and a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top? But why stop there? When I tested the recipe, I used a jar of homemade peach-pineapple preserves that friends had made, and it provided just as good a filling. Instead of sprinkling the top with powdered sugar, though, I added a citrus glaze made with powdered sugar and citrus-infused vodka. A chocolate drizzle with that raspberry filling would work. Nutella instead of jam would work. Add crushed hazelnuts to the raspberry jam would work. The possibilities are endless.
"Although not 'technically' instant, this simple from-scratch cake -- the recipe courtesy of my son-in-law's grandmother -- is utter perfection," Anderson writes. "If you want to substitute all-purpose flour for the self-rising flour, whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the flour."
Nanny's Victoria Sponge
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
Nanny's Victoria Sponge with a glaze.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Alternately add eggs and flour in thirds, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next third. Beat in 1 tablespoon warm water and vanilla. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for a couple of minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Spread top of one cake with jam and top with remaining cake. Dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
From "Perfect One-Dish Dinners" by Pam Anderson