When I was growing up, we always called this yummy cake a Victoria Sandwich, but it is also known as a Victoria Sponge Cake. Why Victoria? It is said that this was a particular favourite of Queen Victoria and that she enjoyed a slice of this cake with her afternoon tea. My mother, as much as she loved the Victorian era, was motivated to make this for us because it is a delicious classic and very quick and easy to make. In fact, it is so easy to make, that my sisters and I would often help her. It is also one of the first things they taught us to make in school.
This is the recipe that I grew up making. I have no idea where it came from as I have only ever seen it scrawled into an aged, yellowing notebook where my mother keeps old recipes. She said she thinks it partially originates from a cookbook she bought from the milkman over thirty years ago but the book has long gone.
I do not use baking powder when I make my Victoria Sandwich, but I know some modern recipes do. This recipe makes two decent sized 18cm (7 inch) sponge cakes for your sandwich (i.e.; the top and the bottom) but if you want a larger Victorian Sandwich, double up the recipe and use 20cm (8 inch) or 22cm (9 inch) cake tins. Please do not be put off by the length of the ‘Method’; this really is a very easy recipe to make, but I’ve given extra hints and suggestions throughout as well as adding videos to aid with even the simplest functions. So no matter if you have not even boiled an egg before, or made toast, you can make this cake!
- 110g (4oz) caster sugar (for those in the US this is finer than normal granulated sugar)
- 110g (4oz) butter (softened)
- 110g (4oz) self-raising flour (sifted twice)
- 2 large eggs (or 3 smaller ones)
- Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
- Raspberry jam
- 150ml (5fl.oz) double cream (heavy or whipping cream)
- Vanilla pod or vanilla extract
1.Grease and line two 18cm (7 inch)sandwich tins. Although this can appear to be rather fiddly to do, it is very easy and the video below shows exactly how to cut out the lining from baking parchment. The video was created by the author of the fabulous ‘Steampunk Tea Party: Cakes & Toffees to Jams & Teas – 30 Neo-Victorian Steampunk Recipes from Far-Flung Galaxies, Underwater Worlds & Airborne Excursions’. Once your tins are ready, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
2.In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar. If you have an electric mixer you can use that, but if you choose to do it by hand say for example if the kids are helping you or if you just do not own one, that is also fine. If you are not using an electric mixer, it is best to use a wooden spoon and the technique is demonstrated below. This is where using softened butter really helps. Keep creaming until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy. Taking the extra time now to do this really helps to give the sponge cake a lighter texture.
3.Beat in the eggs, one at a time and as you add each egg, add a tablespoon of the flour.
4.Gently fold in the remaining flour. The purpose of sifting the flour twice means that it is also lighter and again helps to make your sponge as light as possible.
5.Divide the mixture equally between the two prepared baking tins and smooth the tops using the back of a spoon. This will result in a nicer finish.
6.Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 25 minutes (or 30 minutes if you have doubled up and used a bigger tin size) or until the sponges are well risen and golden. I remember my mother would always tell us not to open the oven door during the cooking process. This is where a glass oven door comes in very handy. If you see that the cake is browning too quickly, lower the heat. You can tell the cake is ready when it is golden, and firm to the touch. If you insert a cocktail/wooden stick into the centre of your cake, it will come out clean.
7.When you have removed the tins from the oven, leave the cakes in their tins for a further 5 minutes, and then turn them out on to a wire cooling rack. You can now remove the parchment paper. Leave the cakes to cool.
8.When the cakes are cool, they are now ready for the filling. Put the cake with the nicer top to the side and place the other one upside down on a dish. This gives you a nice flat surface to work with. If you are just making the Victoria Sandwich for a normal afternoon tea, you can just slather both cakes with oodles of raspberry jam and place them together. However, I think it is a nicer to also use some vanilla cream, especially if you will be serving the cake at a party or social gathering. More details below.
9.I always use raspberry jam as that is my favourite. But you can use any kind that you like. You can use any jar of store bought jam, however you might like to consider making your own. It is extremely easy to do and is a nice touch, as shown in the video below. Sarah Carey makes quite a large batch here! But you can make a smaller amount by modifying the amounts used. A good rule of thumb is to use the same weight of sugar as fruit (with maybe an extra tablespoon or two depending on how sweet you like your jams!)
10.The vanilla cream could not be easier to make as well. Pour the double cream into a bowl and add one tablespoon of icing sugar as well as the seeds of the vanilla pod (split the vanilla pod sideways and scrape a knife along the insides). If you are not using a vanilla pod, you can use a few drops on vanilla extract or even go without. Whip the cream until it is firm and can hold a peak. You can then slather on the cream on top of the jam, or pipe it on.
11.When you have finished with your fillings and have topped the sandwich with the other cake, dust with some icing sugar.
There you go, a lovely cake my family has been making for three decades, which is even better when served with a freshly brewed cup of tea. You can also use this recipe to make individual Victoria Sandwich cakes by baking the cake mixture in cupcake paper holders and then cutting these in half and filling. You can usually make about 18 of these.