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Great Grandmother's Butter Sponge

A buttery sponge cake was standard fare to serve with afternoon tea at my Grandmother’s house in Donoghmore, Co. Kilkenny and a great many other Irish houses also. When it was taken out of the oven of the Aga it was cooled on a wire rack by the window in the back kitchen. Thick yellow cream spooned off the top of the milk in the dairy was whipped and as soon as the cake was cool it was sandwiched together with homemade jam made from the raspberries picked at the top of the haggard. This is the best sponge cake you’ll ever taste.

4 1/2oz (125g) butter

6oz (175g) castor sugar

3 eggs, organic and free-range

6oz (175g) flour

1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder

1 tablespoon milk


4oz (110g) homemade Raspberry Jam (see recipe)

10fl oz (300ml/1/2 pint) whipped cream

castor sugar to sprinkle

2 x 7 inch (18cm) sponge cake tins

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5.

Grease the tin with melted butter, dust with flour and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and gradually add the castor sugar, beat until soft and light and quite pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. (If the butter and sugar are not creamed properly and if you add the eggs too fast, the mixture will curdle, resulting in a cake with a heavier texture). Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in gradually. Mix all together lightly and add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of milk to moisten.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked – the cake will shrink-in slightly from the edge of the tin when it is cooked, the centre should feel exactly the same texture as the edge.  Alternatively a skewer should come out clean when put into the centre of the cake. Turn out onto a wire tray and allow to cool.

Sandwich the two bases together with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved castor sugar. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley.

This is a recipe by
Darina Allen
View all my recipes

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