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“We’re all right! I’ve just found some sponge cake.”
I’ve watched The Fellowship of the Ring so many times I’ve lost count. I can practically recite the whole thing beginning to end, but something magical happened when I watched it for the first time with my “foodie glasses.” I decided to turn on the subtitles just to make sure I didn’t miss any food references, and boy am I glad I did!
When Gandalf arrives at Bag End in the beginning of the movie, Bilbo bustles off to gather food for tea time. While Gandalf looks around the house at the maps and different things, Bilbo is in the background muttering about what to fix for Gandalf. Out of the dozens and dozens of times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve not paid any attention to what Bilbo is actually saying because it’s so muffled and not the focus of the scene. But with the subtitles on, I was able to see all the good food Bilbo is muttering about.
Most of the food is the same as what’s listed in The Hobbit book during the “Unexpected Party,” such as chicken and pickles and apple tart. But then, Bilbo speaks the little line quoted at the top of this post. Sponge cake! I thought that sounded lovely, so I set out to recreate what I thought the sponge cake Bilbo found would have been like, since we never actually see it on screen.
I researched English sponge cake (since the food in Middle Earth is so close to English food…I wonder why! 😉 ) and found all sorts of recipes for Victoria sponge cake. This is a traditional tea-time English sponge cake that became popular in Victorian times, hence the name. The cake always has jam sandwiched in the middle, and more recently it usually also has whipped cream inside, though that part is optional.
I adapted this “Victoria sandwich” recipe, and the resulting cake was so scrumptious, I could hardly believe it. So, do yourself a favor and serve Bilbo’s sponge cake at your next tea party.
Bilbo's Sponge Cake - A Lord of the Rings Recipe
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 cup strawberry jam
- 1 cup whipped cream optional
- extra powdered sugar for dusting
Mix together the eggs, powdered sugar, flour, butter, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan well, and distribute the cake batter dough evenly in the pan.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.
When the cake is completely cool, use a serrated knife to slice the cake in half horizontally.
Take the top layer off of the cake, and spread the jam evenly across the bottom layer.
Distribute the whipped cream evenly across the jam, and replace the top layer of the cake, sandwiching the jam and whipped cream in the middle.
Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving. I like to use a powdered sugar shaker to make it quick and easy.
Once again, the whipped cream is optional, but I think it adds something special to the cake.