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  • Writer's pictureDiana Lee

Rosewater, Raspberry + The Best Vanilla Sponge

As an avid baker, the question I get most frequently by friends is how my boyfriend and I don't look like reality TV weightloss show contestants. We aren't blessed with those crazy-fast metabolisms - we are both past the tender age of 30 after all. We love to eat, and him, being Italian, has a great sweet tooth like most folks here whether they are one or 70 years old. He's super goloso. (BTW, don't trust any Italian who says he/she doesn't like sweets - its a BIG FAT LIE. Believe me.)

So how do we deal with the house always overflowing with sweet treats? It goes like this -

One slice of cake = salad for lunch

Two slices of cake = one run + more walking the next few days

Three slices...this rarely happens since I am only 5 foot 3 and I really can't physically take this kind of quantity, but in the hypothetical situation where it does happen (ok, so it may happen sometimes, especially if its something covered in whipped cream and fruit), I would feel terrible for the next few hours from the sugar overdose but I would just accept that today is just that kind of day where I did a 'Marie Antoinette'.

So lets talk about this cake. The visual association between the film and the cake is really a pure coincidence as I am writing this post, but isn't it perfect?

With a really simple whipped cream and glaze it isn't a difficult cake, although the results scream otherwise. Two vanilla sponge layers are sandwiched with a rose scented whipped cream, raspberry jam, and covered with a rosewater drizzle.

If you want, you can make the sponge layers a day or two days ahead as long as you keep it well wrapped in the fridge or freezer. Just remember to defrost it within the wrapping before frosting it.

I said 'simple whipped cream' assuming that you know the basics - very very very cold heavy cream (with at least 35% fat), and an equally chilled bowl is important before you start whipping. If you got it right, it should whip up in a few minutes. If you are still at it after 10 minutes - forget about it. I've been there. I once tried to keep going at it after two hours of putting it back in the fridge and whipping, over and over, and over, and over again. This will truly drive you crazy and make you a very unpleasant person to hang around with in the apartment. So, don't go there.

Lesson learnt and passed on to you guys - always buy more heavy cream than you think you may need. Any left over can be whipped up to eat with strawberries, and don't forget - coffee!

The vanilla sponge - or Victoria sponge as I often call it - is a true favourite of mine that I have used time and time again, with variations on frosting flavours for numerous parties in the past. Everyone needs a good vanilla sponge recipe in their arsenal, I found mine, and I hope the recipe here helps you find your own vanilla-sponge-nirvana.

And when you do, make sure to share it with me. #pandabakes, do it.




Vanilla sponge recipe adapted from Lily Vanilli's Sweet Tooth

Makes one 2 layer, 15 cm cake.

Double the sponge recipe for a 2 layer 20 cm cake.

Approximately 1.5 times the recipe below for the frosting and icing for decorating a 20 cm cake.



160 g flour

160 g caster sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

175 g butter, softened

3 eggs

190 ml milk

1.5 teaspoon vanilla


100 ml heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon rosewater

2 tablespoons raspberry jam, or coulis


120 g icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon rosewater

1 tablespoon water

3-4 raspberries


some dried roses

handful of raspberries



Set the oven to 180 degrees. Line two 15 cm round cake tins with butter and baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Beat in the butter until the flour is finely coated and resembles bread crumbs (3-5 mins on medium speed with a hand mixer) - I find that it's easier when the butter is cut into smaller cubes, and to speed it up I also tend to use my fingertips in the beginning to cut in the butter, like when you make scones, then finish off with the beater.

Add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed (so you don't splash everything around) and then beat on high until just incorporated.

Add the milk and vanilla, starting on low speed then on high until smooth and combined. Continue for 2-3 minutes so that it looks lighter in colour.

Divide between the two tins and bake for 20-25 mins. Let cool 10 mins in tin until turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.


So this should be easy. Make sure you have a very chilled mixing bowl and heavy cream before you start. When you are ready to fill the cake, beat the cream to soft peaks. Be careful not to over-beat - it's a fine line between soft peaks and lumpy (when it starts transforming into butter). For such a small quantity 1 minute with the hand mixer on medium speed, then finishing off by whisking by hand should do the trick and prevent you from crossing that line.

Whisk in the rosewater at the end.


Smash the raspberries through a fine mesh to grab the juice into a medium bowl. Add all the other ingredients and whisk with a fork or spatula until smooth.


Get your sponge cakes ready - place the slightly uglier layer on your cake board/cake stand/pretty plate. You want this to be your presentation plate because drizzles are going to fall onto it and it's going to look pretty with the whole shebang, rather than changing plates afterwards.

Smother it with a good amount of the rosewater whipped cream. Then smother it again with the raspberry coulis. Drop a few fresh raspberries onto it.

Place the other layer carefully on top. Go drizzling with the glaze, don't worry too much about it falling in all the wrong places, just have fun with it. Shower your pink cake with some crushed dried rose petals and fresh raspberries. Or just one.

One last thing - start making the cream and glaze just as you are going to assemble the cake, and serve within a couple of hours because that's when it will still look its best due to the properties of whipped cream.

Panda Bakes Milan
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