Victoria Sponge

The Victoria Sponge, also known as a Victoria Sandwich (and affectionately as a Vicky Sponge), is probably the most iconic of English afternoon cakes and I have to tell you, I am here for every last crumb of it. As a rule I’m not a big cake eater, but the Victoria Sponge is mesmerizing in its light, golden butteriness and the combination of sponge, jam and cream is perfection.

Having said that, before I continue I would like to take this opportunity to address a difference between British and American cakes. British cakes, indeed most European cakes, tend to be less sweet and drier than their American counterparts. Case in point, my family has accused me of trying to choke them with my cakes which apparently are so dry that the crumbs get caught in their throats and makes them cough. I mean, death by cake, come on…although one could certainly argue that there are worse ways to go.

I in turn find American cakes to be too stodgy. The difference is that American cakes are often made with oil or with a lot more sugar, which makes them extremely moist but takes the emphasis off the butter, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best bit. This has been a point of much discussion and a bone of contention over the years in my house, highlighting cultural preferences even in matters of cake.

Consider yourself warned and have a glass of something to drink handy just in case. And yes, I am now massively rolling my eyes.

In its simplest form, the Victoria sponge is two layers of sponge cake sandwiched with a layer of jam. Perfect for an everyday afternoon cuppa and certainly delightful. But gussy it up with freshly whipped cream and it becomes worthy of an invitation to afternoon tea.

As far as the flavour of jam goes, feel free to use whatever sounds good. For years I was loyal to strawberry but have been converted to raspberry of late. Blackberry or blackcurrant, while not traditional, would be excellent and lemon curd always makes for a nice change. If I’m feeling extra fancy I will also add a smattering of berries to the filling as well.

The recipe I give here is a traditional one usually found in older cookbooks which has you weigh the eggs and use the equivalent weight for the butter, sugar and flour. It’s nice and simple but does require a scale. I bought this one several years ago and have been very happy with it. For those wanting to make the cake without scales I have included alternative measurements.

The cake itself is named after Queen Victoria. Evidently, Victoria had quite the sweet tooth and after having been deprived of baked delicacies in her youth, decided to make up for lost time in her later years and this was one of her favourites. And, quite frankly, after giving birth to nine children, I think it’s pretty safe to say that she deserved every single delicious bite.

So whip one up and if you haven’t already, enjoy it while watching the tv series Victoria .  The deliciousness of the cake is matched only by the deliciousness of all that built in drama of the monarchy.

Victoria Sponge

  • 3 large eggs
  • unsalted butter (12 T.) always room temp for baking
  • sugar (3/4 C. +2 T.)
  • all-purpose flour (1-1/3 C.)
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T. milk
  • pint of heavy cream
  • 2 T. icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • several tablespoons of raspberry or strawberry jam
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease and line two 8″ cake pans.
  2. Weigh the eggs in their shell, then weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes, until white and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until incorporated.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and then fold into the batter.
  6. Stir in the vanilla and milk and then divide the batter between the two cake tins, smoothing the top.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be a nice golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the tin.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  9. Whip the cream and icing sugar to soft but sturdy peaks.
  10. When the cakes are completely cool, spread one with a nice layer of jam and then spoon the cream over the top.
  11. Top with the second layer, dust with icing sugar and serve.

The cake itself can be made a day ahead, wrapped and stored in the fridge or at room temperature. Once the cake is put together it is best eaten the same day.

Having said that, it doesn’t taste bad the next day either. Store it in the fridge, because of the cream, allowing it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before eating so that the sponge has time to soften up.

And here are a few general cake making tips:

When you’re making any cake, one thing to keep in mind is downgrading your speed with each layer of ingredients.

When you start with the butter and sugar, beat on high. At this point you can walk away from the mixer for a good 10 minutes and the mixture will be just fine, indeed will benefit from a long beating. The butter and sugar should be almost white and very fluffy.

When you add the eggs switch down to medium and beat only until the eggs are fully incorporated, a minute will be plenty.

When it’s time to involve the flour, move to slow speed and mix as little as possible. Often I will not use the mixer at this point, but will simply fold the flour into the batter. The more mixing, the more gluten will develop which makes for a less than light and airy cake.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *