I love trying out new dessert recipes and sharing my findings. Turns out many fancy sweets aren't nearly as hard to make as I once thought!
Traditional Victoria Sponge Cake
A traditional Victoria sponge cake is one of my family's favourite treats for afternoon tea. Not only is it delicious, but it's also incredibly simple to make. It consists of two layers of cake sandwiched together with jam and buttercream. There are variations of the recipe (some people use fresh fruit or cream in the filling), but I am sticking with this recipe passed to me by my grandmother. Of course, she wouldn't be entirely happy with me using an electric mixer, but I like to cut down on preparation time. If you have the inclination, mix everything together by hand in a big bowl using a wooden spoon.
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A 6-inch, round cake which will give 6-8 servings
Ingredients for the Sponge Cake
- 1 cup softened butter, unsalted
- 1 cup caster / superfine sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 1 cup self-rise flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder, (baking soda)
- 1/4 cup milk, whole fat
- raspberry jam to fill the cake
- buttercream to fill the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and prepare two 6-inch round baking tins by greasing and flouring them.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. Make sure the sugar is well-mixed with the butter. The texture should be light and fluffy.
- Into a separate bowl, crack four eggs, ensuring that you remove any stray pieces of shell. With the mixer on slow speed, add the eggs, one at a time, to the batter. After each egg is added, mix thoroughly to ensure it is incorporated completely before you add the next.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the batter. If you sift the flour a couple of times, you'll get more air into it and the result will be a lighter cake.
- Mix until the flour is incorporated and then add the milk and stir.
- Divide the cake batter as equally as possible between your two prepared cake pans and put them into the oven for approximately 25 minutes. It's smart to check the cakes after 20 minutes and only give them an additional 5 minutes if necessary. The cakes are ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The sponges should be springy to the touch.
- After removing them from the oven, leave the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once completely cooled, spread raspberry jam (or any other kind you like) onto one half. Spread buttercream over the other half of the cake and then carefully sandwich the two layers together. Lightly dust the top with icing (powdered) sugar and serve.
You can use any buttercream recipe for this cake, but I find it's best not to make the frosting too sweet. Here's my favourite recipe:
- 1 cup softened butter (unsalted)
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Simply mix together the ingredients until you have a smooth consistency. It helps if the butter is really soft, and you should sift the icing sugar to get rid of any lumps.
Suggestions for Alternative Fillings
There are hundreds of possibilities for adapting this recipe, but here are some alternative fillings I have used to great effect:
- Lemon curd and whipped cream.
- Fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
- A simple layer of strawberry-flavoured buttercream.
- Fresh blueberries and vanilla buttercream.
Facts and Tips
- This cake is named after Queen Victoria, who was said to be a big fan of this simple sponge cake.
- Sometimes, the cake is called a Victoria Sandwich rather than a Victoria Sponge.
- Some traditionalists believe that the only filling for a Victoria Sponge should be a layer of jam.
- This is a great cake to make to introduce your kids to baking because it is so simple.
- Some modern bakers save time by putting all the ingredients together in a bowl and mixing them all at once rather than going through each step of the mixing process—the results are still very good.
- This recipe is also great for making cupcakes or as the basis for creating a great chocolate cake—simply add cocoa powder and reduce the amount of flour used.
- The sponge cake will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you're ready to use it, simply allow it to defrost at room temperature and then sandwich the layers together with the filling of your choice.