In my opinion, nothing beats a classic Victoria sponge cake, especially when paired with a cup of tea and a good book. I’ve been reading to a tight deadline this week, but I took a bit of time out to bake my Dorset-born Grandmother’s prized Victoria sandwich recipe. My Nan was famed for her sponges, and although my cakes don’t rise to her staggering proportions, I do have a slightly adapted version of her recipe, and it’s still my favourite to bake.
This cake is baked in a 6″ tin, which I think is a brilliantly versatile cake size. You can feed six people a slice, or it’s perfect for my Mum and me to enjoy over two or three days, without any danger of the cake drying out before it’s finished. I also love to make this cake as a birthday present for friends, and its small size makes it easy to transport.
Having an excellent Victoria sponge recipe up your sleeve is a real boon, as the filling and icing can be adapted to so many different tastes and occasions. For this recipe, I’ve chosen jam and buttercream as my classic fillings, but fresh strawberries and whipped cream is an equally delectable pairing, particularly in June when English strawberries are at their best and the cake is so often eaten to the steady thwack of tennis rackets in the background. If I’m pressed for time, then I tend to sandwich a good fruit curd between the layers and sprinkle the top with sugar.
The Victoria sponge cake is a quintessentially English treat, and it dates back to Queen Victoria’s reign and the 19th Century craze for socialising over afternoon tea, with a table laden with baked goods. The type of sponge cake Queen Victoria would have enjoyed at her tea-table, though, would have looked rather different from the round layered cake we associate with her today. Apparently, the first Victoria sponges looked like little sandwiches, cut to resemble the savoury versions that were also served. The food historian Annie Gray has done a fun video on baking an authentic Victoria sandwich here.
However, when it comes to baking the Victoria sponge cake as we know and love it today, I don’t think you can beat my Grandmother’s recipe! She favoured the all-in-one method, and her secret trick was to use margarine rather than butter, and I do believe this makes for a lighter sponge, but of course you can use butter instead.
Classic Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe
All ingredients should be at room temperature
4oz soft margarine or butter
4oz caster sugar (I use golden caster sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
4oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Filling and topping:
4 Tbsps strawberry jam
8oz icing sugar
3oz soft margarine or butter
1 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
Grease and line the base of one 6″ deep, round tin. Set the oven to 350F, 180C, Gas Mark 4.
Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a mixing bowl and then add the sugar, soft butter or margarine, eggs and vanilla. Beat well with wooden spoon or hand held mixer for a couple of minutes. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top of the cake. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 – 50 mins until springy to touch (I check for toothpick to come out clean from 40 mins). Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool completed before cutting into two horizontally, as evenly as possible.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and use hand held mixer or wooden spoon to beat in the soft butter or margarine, vanilla essence and milk until the icing is pale and smooth.
Once cake is cool, sandwich the halves with jam and half the icing, using the rest to ice the top. Enjoy!
If you make any of my recipes, then do share them with me on Instagram at @mirandasnotebook. I’d love to see!