Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (2022)

Baking can be an expensive hobby. From bowls to tins, rolling pins to using good quality, fresh ingredients; it all soon adds up. I wanted to put budget ingredients to the test against some of the more premium products available.

I decided on a good, basic recipe – a Victoria Sponge. A staple in every bakers arsenal. I would bake two cakes and compare them side by side, and to make it completely fair, request the assistance from friends and loved ones in a blind taste test!

I will be making both cakes using the same recipe, baked in the same tins at the same temperature for the same amount of time. Every part of this experiment has been carefully controlled to get a fair result. All prices are from my local Tesco and are correct as of the date of this blog post.

I, myself in my every day kitchen tend to use a mid-range flour and Stork in sponge cakes, butter in most other things and always free-range eggs. This review is simply a baking comparison between the cheapest and more expensive baking ingredients I could find in my supermarket, and the results I found when I did it.

How much difference can there really be in the ingredients? Is the old saying true of ‘buy cheap, buy twice? Do you really get what you pay for? Let’s find out!

The Recipe

8″ Victoria Sponge baked in two sandwich tins;

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, split into two sandwich tins and bake at 170C for 20 minutes.

Buttercream filling;

  • 100g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, add the icing sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth.


This is the total cost of ingredients to buy for everything in the picture and the icing sugar(which I genuinely forgot to put in the shot!). At over £10 more expensive, the ‘premium’ selection, coming in at £16.44 includes household names like Homepride and Lurpack, while the ‘budget’ range at £6.61 is mostly supermarket brand with a few exceptions where the supermarket didn’t stock a name brand alternative. These prices are for the ingredients in total and not the amount of ingredients in the cake. Let’s break it down a bit and see the differences.

Flour

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Let’s start with flour. My Victoria Sponge recipe calls for Self Raising. One major difference between these two is that theylook the same size but in fact, the Homepride box weighs in at 1 KG for £1.50 whereas the Tesco Everyday Value is a larger 1.5 KG for 45p.The Homepride flour looked a lot finer and more powder-like in texture.

Butter

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (4)

Ok. So the ‘budget’ option for this isn’t strictly butter, but it was the cheaper alternative available in my local Tesco, coming in at 55p for 250g versus the Lurpak butter of £1.70 for the same amount.I chose the spread for two reasons. One, someone on Twitter said that’s how they made their buttercream and I was curious and two, it was the cheapest product and that’s what I was going for with this one. For a little extra cost you can use supermarket own unsalted butter.

Eggs

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (5)

For a box of 6 eggs, there wasn’t much in the price. The Everyday Value eggs from caged hens at 70p and the Happy Eggs at 89p. This one is more of a moral issue for me I think. I would rather bake with free range eggs in the knowledge the hens were happier. I would pay 19p extra any day for that.

Caster Sugar

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (6)

There was only one choice of caster sugar available in my Tesco and that was good old Silver Spoon. A firm favourite of mine and a bargain in anyones book at 99p for 500g.

Baking Powder

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (7)

As with the caster sugar, there was only one option for baking powder too, and that was Dr. Oetker. Available to buy in a pot or sachets. However, my local store had sold out of the pots and so sachets were my only option. Not bad at £1 for 30g which works out at 6 sachets of 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Vanilla

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (8)

This is the biggest price jump at £4.29 difference between the Neilsen Massey Vanilla Bean Paste (£5.59 for 118ml) and the Tesco Madagascan Vanilla Extract (£1.30 for 60ml) They are visibly different in quality, with the Neilsen Massey being a thick paste with visible vanilla flecks and the Tesco extract being watery in consistency.

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (9)

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Silver Spoon to the rescue once more with the icing sugar. Again, this was the only option available to me but one to suit all budgets at 78p for 500g.

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (10)

Lastly, the jam. The tart and tasty strawberry jam filling that makes a Victoria Sponge stand out from the rest. This was the second biggest price difference and one that shocked me as I bought the ingredients for this post. With the Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve coming in at £2.29 for 370g and the Tesco Everyday Value Strawberry Jam at just 29p for 454g. I usually buy a mid-range jam so I’m interested to see how these two fair against one another.


The budget sponge was up first. I made the recipe and split into the two lined 8″ sandwich tins and baked for 20 minutes at 170C. Once out of the oven, I transferred them to a cooling rack.I then repeated this exactlyusing the premium ingredients. The only differences I saw at this stage were the premium ingredients made for a more yellow coloured mixture.



Once both sets of cakes were out of the oven and cooled, you could already see a difference. The ‘premium’ sponges on the left and the ‘budget’ sponges on the right. It’s clear that the ‘premium’ sponges are darker in colour, haven’t shrunk away from the pan as much as the ‘budget’ sponge and have risen a lot more. The sides also look crisp and even, while the ‘budget’ sponges have ‘crumbed’ around the edge and top.

The Fillings

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (21)

To make the buttercream, I mixed the butter/spread on it’s own for 1 minute then added in the icing sugar and vanilla and mixed on a fast speed until it was smooth. I could tell a difference in consistency when transferring into bowls with the Lurpack buttercream (left) being much firmer than the spread buttercream (right). Visually however, there wasn’t much in it, with the only obvious difference being in the specks of vanilla in the ‘premium’ filling.

I spread the buttercream over their respective sponges and then spread a layer of jam. I then sandwiched the cake and finished them both with a dusting of icing sugar indicative of a classic Victoria Sponge.

Let’s see how they compare.

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Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (22)

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (23)

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (24)

They both look pretty tasty if I do say so myself. Separately, I don’t think I could tell any difference. It’s only when you sit them side by side that you can see the rise in the ‘premium’ sponge sits a lot higher.

These prices have been worked out for the amount of ingredients you need out of the packets bought in the top pictures. This cost doesn’t include the tins, baking paper or the electricity to bake it.

The Curve Ball


I wanted to add a third cake to my blind taste test, a shop bought cake. I found a Tesco Value Raspberry Flavoured Sponge cake for 58p. FIFTY EIGHT PENCE. I simply had to add it to my line up. I know it’s raspberry and not strawberry but it was the closest I could find to a Victoria sponge in the value range and I had to know the witchcraft how they could make a cake for 58p. It’s a lot smaller than the others, hence the different plate, so I will be cutting it up into slices for thetaste test.

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (27)

My partner Tim was understandably excited when I called him to tell him he had not one, not two, but three cakes to taste when he got home. However, I needed a few more opinions so I invited a few friends round and thrust some cake at them. I will take part in the test also but as I know what cake will be what, I don’t have the ‘blind’ element on my side in this comparison.

Slicing them really gave me an indication of how they would be. The 58p Supermarket cake felt like sponge… but not cake sponge, washing up sponge. The two home-made ones were a lot nicer to cut with the ‘premium’ ingredients cake slicing the best.

I noted down some comments from my friends when they were enjoying the cakes:

58p Supermarket Cake

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  • “Very sweet… really dry.”
  • “This tastes like the flour has been swept off the floor.”
  • “It’s just too small! Not very aesthetically appealing.”
  • “If someone gave me this cake, I’d think they didn’t like me.”

Budget Ingredients Cake

  • “Better sponge, the buttercream has a weird aftertaste though…”
  • “Not as sweet as the first one but in a really good way.”
  • “This is a lovely cake!”
  • “Perfectly alright. A nice cake for a Sunday afternoon.”

Premium Ingredients Cake

  • “Wow. You can a actually taste the quality is better…”
  • “The texture and colour of the sponge and buttercream is so much nicer than the last two.”
  • “There’s a wider difference in the taste of this and the second (budget ingredients) cake than there is to look at them.”
  • “This cake is a different league.”

Budget vs Premium - Victoria Sponge | A baking review by She Who Bakes - She Who Bakes (28)

In Conclusion

So, having baked two cakes and tried all three, here are my thoughts.

The 58p Supermarket cake was a waste of time, I knew it wasn’t going to be amazing but I was surprised at justhow fake it tasted. It was a bit like eating a washing up sponge with sugar on it. Considering I’ve shown you can actually buy the ingredients for not much money, I would 100% advise you to always home bake your cakes.

The ‘budget’ ingredients cake was nice. If I was served a slice of that with my afternoon tea I would be very happy indeed. It goes to show you can bake a lovely Victoria sponge cake for less than £3.50. It was an even bake, spongy in texture, not too sweet and nice to look at. The buttercream, however, wasn’t for me. I think buttercream should be made with real butter.

The ‘premium’ ingredients cake was awesome. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been baking for five years and I thought I knew my cakes, but the results of this test surprised me. Having baked with all manner of ingredients from when I started to now, I had always known that you can taste quality and sometimes if it was on offer, I would buy posh flour or more expensive butter, but this is the first time I have used all premium products on one cake and you canreally taste it. It’s light, it’s baked beautifully, it’s the perfect balance between sweet enough to enjoy and not so sweet you need to go to the dentist after. The buttercream is thick and velvety and the jam is tart and compliments the rest of the cake fantastically.

If you are baking a cake for your afternoon tea, there is no reason not to use budget ingredients. It produced a fine cake great for any table, but if you really want to impress someone and want to go all out, the premium products are the way to go.

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my ebookHow To Start A Cake Business From Homefor everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

Thank you for reading. Give it a try and let me know how you get on either onFacebookorTwitterandInstagram.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

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FAQs

Why is my Victoria sponge dense and heavy? ›

If the butter or spread is too soft, it becomes oily and the resulting cake heavy and dense. If the butter is too cold, it takes too long to incorporate into the sugar and eggs and can cause over-mixing, which in turn means a heavy cake.

What makes a cake super moist and fluffy? ›

Creaming Butter & Sugar. Whisking butter and sugar together is one essential tip to make the cake spongy, fluffy and moist. Whisk butter and sugar for a long until the mixture becomes pale yellow and fluffy because of the incorporation of air. The process is known as creaming.

Which ingredient makes cake soft and fluffy? ›

Most cakes begin with creaming butter and sugar together. Butter is capable of holding air and the creaming process is when butter traps that air. While baking, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy cake. No properly creamed butter = no air = no fluffiness.

Why does my Victoria sponge keep sinking in the middle? ›

The most common reason why cakes sink in the middle is that they're underbaked. What is this? If a cake isn't fully baked through, the center doesn't have a chance to set and it will sink. This creates a doughy, dense texture in the center of your cake layer.

What is a secret ingredient to moisten cakes? ›

Add Vegetable Oil. While butter will give you the best flavor, vegetable oil will make your cakes moister. I use a combination of salted butter and vegetable oil in all my cake recipes to get the most flavorful and moistest results. Vegetable oil stays a liquid at room temperature, while butter solidifies.

What can I add to cake mix to make it fluffier? ›

"Adding an additional egg creates a richer, fluffier cake," says Waterson. Tack on an additional egg than what's called for on the box while mixing, and mix as normal. Egg whites: Egg yolks contain more fat than egg whites. For a light, airy cake, swap out whole eggs for egg whites.

What ingredient keeps a cake moist? ›

Making a moist cake starts with the cake mix. If a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, opt for cake flour instead to create a more moist, tender crumb. Additions like sour cream, buttermilk, or applesauce can also infuse moisture and prevent a dry cake.

How do bakeries get their cakes so soft? ›

Cake flour, which is more finely ground and contains less protein than its all-purpose counterpart, is a major contributor to how soft and the overall weight of a cake. Since cake flour has less protein, less gluten is formed. Without all of that gluten, the cake becomes less dense, airy, and smooth.

Why do my cakes get hard after baking? ›

Don't Overmix Your Batter

The culprit behind what makes a cake tough could be overmixing your flour. Flour is the foundation of baked recipes because it provides structure. When combined with liquid and after mixing, flour's protein (gluten) begins to develop.

Why does a cake crumble when you cut it? ›

Cake typically turns out crumbly because there is too much flour (especially all-purpose flour) or too little fat. You may also be overmixing or overbaking the cake or cutting it incorrectly. If you end up with a crumbly cake, pinpoint what went wrong and repurpose the fail into a “win” like cake pops or cookies.

What is the most popular type of cake in the world? ›

Chocolate

Why did my sponge cake deflate after baking? ›

A: Because sponge cakes are based on a high proportion of eggs (which gives them a relatively flexible structure) and they contain a large amount of air, when they cool after baking they do deflate more than other types of cakes – if you watch carefully you will notice them pulling away from the sides of the tin and ...

Why does my Victoria sponge crack on top? ›

Why do cakes crack when baking? A: Oven too hot or cake placed too high in oven; the crust is formed too soon, the cake continues to rise, therefore the crust cracks.

Why does my Victoria Sponge go sticky on top? ›

A tacky top is typically caused by covering or wrapping the cake before it's completely cooled. This traps moisture inside, causing that sticky texture. Avoiding this pitfall is easy, just let the cake sit on a wire rack until totally cool. Even with these cake tips, you may still end up with a few flops.

Why does my Victoria sponge taste eggy? ›

Eggs all contain two chalazae or 'eyes.

' These keep eggs fresh, but they are also what make an egg smell and taste particularly eggy. To get rid of any potential egg smells or tastes when baking a cake, remove the eyes of the egg.

Can you overbeat a Victoria sponge? ›

Although it is possible to overbeat it's not easy, and I would suggest you beat it until it looks finished and then a bit more. If the eggs are added too fast, the mixture may begin to curdle. Beat the eggs together firs.

How do I stop my Victoria sponge from curdling? ›

Add the egg in three equal amounts, beating well between each one, and adding a heaped tablespoon of flour after each addition. The flour will stop your batter curdling.

How do you keep a sponge from getting soggy on the bottom? ›

Blind-bake your base before adding a filling to help to firm the base and avoid liquid being absorbed into it. Prick the base with a fork to help steam escape, cover with foil or parchment, and weigh it down with ceramic baking beans, uncooked rice or white sugar. Then bake at 220°C (425°F) for 15 minutes.

Does freezing a cake make it more moist? ›

Nothing dries out cake or other breads/baked goods faster than the fridge. It's a killer, better to leave in on the counter. BUT freezing is different, it STOPS, rather than slows and so your cakes will stay not dried out and still taste amazing when it thaws (without losing all that steam).

Do bakeries use boxed cake mixes? ›

Don't get caught in the trap of thinking that you must bake from scratch if you sell cakes. Most bakeries do NOT bake from scratch. In fact, I once worked at a bakery that actually claimed to be a “scratch bakery”, but all their cakes started with a Duncan Hines cake mix, the same kind you buy in the grocery store.

Should I cover a cake while cooling? ›

You must do this as soon as they are out of the oven, otherwise your cakes will definitely get soggy. Immediately following, cover the cakes tightly with plastic wrap and put aside to cool. If you have a bad recipe or have over-baked your cakes, this will not rescue them from being doomed to dry-ness.

What does adding extra eggs do to a cake? ›

How does the number of eggs affect a cake? If you add too many eggs to a cake, you'll get a much thinner consistency of cake batter and, while it will be a stunning golden colour, you'll end up with a cake tasting and textured more like a baked custard.

What does adding another egg to cake mix do? ›

Because emulsifiers hold water and fat together, adding extra egg yolks to the batter enables the batter to hold extra liquid and, consequently, extra sugar. This helps create a moister and sweeter cake that will still bake up with a good structure rather than falling into a gooey mass.

What happens if you add an extra egg to a box cake mix? ›

Because eggs help build the cake's structure (don't use them and you're looking at a gooey mess), adding an extra egg yolk makes the cake batter denser. Translation: you'll have a moister confection. Conversely, she suggests an extra egg white for a fluffier cake.

How do bakeries keep cakes fresh? ›

For a bakery, a commercial refrigeration unit is non-negotiable. That's because if you're displaying a cake, it's likely already frosted. Without refrigeration, your frosting will melt and spoil, especially in a bakery with high customer traffic.

Do bakeries use cake gel? ›

Cake oil is widely used in baking industry as cake foaming agent and foam stabilizer. The development of cake gel is an important technological innovation for traditional cake production process.

Why do you put milk in a cake? ›

Milk in cake recipes, generally makes the texture lighter and stronger (thanks to the protein and lactic acid),. Adding the right amount keeps the cake from being dense. Milk (and other liquids) actually activates other ingredients in the cake batter like leaveners (baking soda, baking powder).

Why is my cake burnt on the outside and raw in the middle? ›

If you find that your cakes are brown on the outside but are still raw on the inside then it is likely that the oven is too hot. Most cakes are baked at around 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4 on the middle shelf of the oven.

Does putting cake in the fridge make it hard? ›

Why? Refrigeration dries sponge cakes out. It's that simple. Even if you refrigerate a cake in a perfectly sealed container and only for a short amount of time, it will dry out.

Should you cut a cake when it's hot or cold? ›

Wait until the cakes have cooled completely, or for the best results, chill the layers before trimming. When the cake is cool and more firm, it's less likely to crack or tear.

How long should a cake sit before cutting? ›

How Long Should You Cool Your Cake? Your cake needs anywhere from ten minutes to a couple of hours to cool off before you can handle it completely without fear of it crumbling. If you wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic, you can store cake in the refrigerator or freezer.

What does buttermilk do to a cake? ›

Buttermilk is a tenderizer. It makes baked goods moist right from the start. Buttermilk is tangy. While many times you might not notice its flavor, in this vanilla buttermilk cake, it keeps the cake from being too sweet and gives it a rich, buttery taste.

Why is my cake dense and heavy? ›

A cake that is overly dense typically has too much liquid, too much sugar or too little leavening (not excess flour, as is commonly thought).

Why is my sponge cake not light and fluffy? ›

This could be because a/ the cake mixture hasn't had enough air beaten into it, b/ the eggs were added too quickly and curdled or c/ there's not enough raising agent.

Why does my cake have a heavy texture? ›

Over-mixing the batter causes strong gluten strands to form, which give your cake that dense texture. If some of your ingredients are cold, they make it more difficult to mix together your batter and can impact the rise of your cake.

How do you fix a cake that is too dense? ›

  1. 1 – Stop Doubling the Recipe. The mistake that you're making could be that you're doubling the recipe. ...
  2. 2 – Add Baking Powder or Baking Soda. ...
  3. 3 – Don't Forget to Use Room Temperature Butter. ...
  4. 4 – Consider Adding Some Sour Cream. ...
  5. 5 – Start Using Cake Flour. ...
  6. 6 – Bake the Cake for the Proper Amount of Time. ...
  7. 7 – Add a Bit of Oil.
4 May 2022

Why did my sponge cake turn out heavy? ›

If your sponge has come out too heavy or dense but cooked through, this could be due to under-mixing. Mixing is an important step in incorporating lots of air so that the sponge becomes light and fluffy. It could also be due to the fact that there weren't enough raising agents used.

Why do my sponge cakes deflate after baking? ›

A: Because sponge cakes are based on a high proportion of eggs (which gives them a relatively flexible structure) and they contain a large amount of air, when they cool after baking they do deflate more than other types of cakes – if you watch carefully you will notice them pulling away from the sides of the tin and ...

How do you make a sponge cake rise higher? ›

Add a leavening agent to the flour. Most cakes will call for a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. These create the bubbles you need for the cake to rise. If the flour you use is self-raising, it already has a leavening agent in it.

What is the best flour to use for sponge cake? ›

Cake flour also absorbs more liquid and sugar than all-purpose flour, which helps create super-moist cakes. Cake flour is best used for: sponge cake, pound cake, layer cake, angel food cake, and muffins.

Why is my cake wet in the middle? ›

When a cake is wet in the middle it is because the edges have cooked faster than the centre. This happens because of the way the cake cooks naturally in the tin – the sides of the cake tin heat up first.

Why does my butter cake crack on top? ›

In an oven that's too hot, the outside of the cake cooks at a much faster rate than the inside. A crust forms early on, but as the inside of the cake continues to cook and rise, this crack crusts. You might experience the same problem if the cake recipe has too much leavener or if you've used a pan that's too small.

How do you keep a cake moist for 2 days? ›

How do you keep a cake moist for days? If the cake is unfrosted, then you can wrap it in plastic wrap and store it on the counter for five days or in the freezer for weeks. If frosted, the shelf life shortens a bit, but it also ensures that the cake stays moist as frosting seals the cake and keeps the moisture inside.

What are the 3 types of cakes? ›

Thus, cakes are either: SHORTENED (BUTTER OR OIL) CAKES or UNSHORTENED (FOAM) CAKES. Chiffon cakes make up the third category, but here they're included with unshortened(foam) cakes. Three basic types. High ratio of eggs to flour and fall into three categories.

Can you double the ingredients for a cake? ›

For most baking recipes, you can simply double the ingredients. Eggs, flour, sugar, butter, even vanilla extract, can be doubled for almost any recipe you make. Just times the amounts by 2 – and be sure to do it for ALL the ingredients (don't forget!)

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