Graduation Sponge

I call this recipe ‘Graduation Sponge’ for no reason other than it is the cake I made for my housemates and myself to celebrate with upon our graduation. I can confirm it goes well with champagne, that way.

It’s light and summery- essentially a classic Victoria Sponge with a couple of extras to taste. It’s so simple that even a largely bumbling baker such as myself could do it, and is perfect for a summer pudding or the much-needed sugar fix during an afternoon lull in the office.

It is rustic and wholesome, certainly not a piece of fine patisserie, but a nice accompaniment to the dessert table nonetheless.

Perhaps went a bit mad with the filling!

Perhaps went a bit mad with the filling!



  • Four average-sized eggs
  • 300g butter (softened, but not melted)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp milk, or one if using evaporated milk/milk powder
  • vanilla (ground- Dr Oetker do a nice vanilla grinder- or use two drops of essence)
  • desiccated coconut- half a flat teaspoon
  • flaked almonds- one flat teaspoon


  • 200g butter (softened)
  • 240g sifted icing sugar
  • vanilla (a drop of extract, or a scrape of a pod)
  • 400g strawberry jam (I will include the recipe to make it, or just use a shop-bought jar)
  • Extra icing sugar to sprinkle or make a fine icing with.



  • 500g of strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 400g or granulated, or jam, sugar
  • two tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • a sprig of thyme

I know adding balsamic vinegar makes this sound more like a salad dressing than a jam fit for a cake but trust me, it’s still very sweet! If you’ve never tried a strawberry lightly dipped in balsamic vinegar I highly recommend it!

  1. Use a thick-bottomed saucepan that can take some heat. The jam mixture gets ridiculously hot and you essentially have a pan of lava.  Put the saucepan over a medium heat and add the sugar and vinegar. Wait for the sugar to dissolve- you should see a slow rolling boil as it thickens like a caramel. Watch it carefully as it can turn into a burnt disaster quickly, but there shouldn’t be a need to stir it.
  2. Add the strawberries and thyme. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. This mixture should be left to cook for about 18 minutes, but could take more or less time. You’re after it becoming thick and glossy. Before it sets, remove the thyme sprig.

Allow the jam to cool, or strain it if you want a less chunky jam. Transfer to hot sterilised jars and seal. Kilner jars are ideal. The jam should keep for two weeks.

Sponge recipe

  1. Heat the oven to 180c fan, spray cake release spray on two sandwich tins (preferably 20cm ones), and beat all of the cake ingredients together.
  2. Divide the mixture in half, and add to each of the tins, making sure they’re even and smooth. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden and springy.
  3. Whilst the sponge is cooling, beat the butter and sifted icing sugar together until butter cream forms.
  4. Assemble the cake, when cool, by layering the butter cream and jam
  5. Ice if you like, decorate however,  and enjoy it with tea or champagne

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