Typically British: The Victoria Sponge

Serves: Makes ~8-10 slices
Cost: ~€1.80
Preparation and cooking time: ~30 minutes
Calories: ~282 per slice

Hi again everyone, I’ve been busy in my parents’ kitchen and I wanted to make something typically British to commemorate my vacation here. This is a bit of a continuation from my Swedish sockerkaka recipe. I wrote there about many countries having their own basic “sponge” cake. Sweden has the aforementioned sockerkaka, North America has the pound cake and then good old England has the Victoria Sponge. Since the Brits are so fond of afternoon tea, and there really is no other more quintessentially British cake than this, to be consumed after the crust-less cucumber sandwiches at high tea on a Sunday afternoon, then this seemed like the perfect think to make.

The traditional Victoria Sponge should be sandwiched with raspberry jam and dusted with caster sugar. If you start fiddling about with fillings and toppings it is apparently no longer a Victoria Sponge – rather just a sponge… a “Victoria Wannabe” if you will. I must admit, I do like adding a buttercream filling to my cakes so mine aren’t always completely traditional, but they’re good nevertheless.

I’m a terrible corner-cutter with sponge cakes and over the years it’s got to the point where they’ve become heavy cakes which dry very quickly. For this recipe it was back to basics. I wanted to do everything “the right way” once again, to ensure that the results were optimal. This even included going back in time a bit, from a equipment point of view, and using my parents’ slightly less than accurate kitchen scales. In this digital age I’m used to precision accuracy, down to the gram, but this older style scale certainly has its charm!

Back in time

Despite being in an unfamiliar kitchen, using a gas-powered, non fan-controlled oven, and these balance-style scales the resulting cake was actually one of the best sponge cakes I’ve made in a long time. A fact confirmed by my wife who is so used to my rushed offerings, so this really does go to show that small acts in baking – sifting, folding and the like – can make a huge difference to the final product!

Victoria Sponge Cake

Before I get to the cake though, a few photos from my trip so far. Please forgive the grainy cellphone photos, the light wasn’t the best in a couple of them, but I thought I’d briefly show you about what I’ve been doing. My wife and I had a wonderful meal – alone. Just the two of us. That was absolutely fantastic and pictured is my starter of Guinea Fowl Terrine with Onion Bhaji:

New foods for myself

My son has also been expanding his gastronomic horizons. On the menu today: “Table”!

New foods for William

We’ve also been out and about visiting a few places, although not quite as many as we’d have hoped. It’s been really cold and windy which makes going outside for any extended period of time less than a pleasure, sadly. Pictured below is a photo taken at the top of a (cold) hill called “Spread Eagle Hill” in Dorset. The arrangement of the hills and valleys here kind of look like an out-stretched eagle in flight, although it’s a little difficult to explain how from the Google Maps view.

Dorset Valleys

There are great views from the top and we used to picnic near here as a family when I was younger. I have many memories of sitting in a car sipping tea and eating potato salad, as it was raining outside! That, in case you were wondering, is how the Brits do picnics; never put off by a bit of rain, we’ll happily sit in the car eating the food and, naturally, complaining about the weather!

I have two trips coming up so will duly take photos and share them with you soon, in the meantime though I hope you enjoy the rest of the post, and have a great day (and a very happy easter!). I apologise if I haven’t replied to your comments yet or been to any other blogs in a while – I’ll catch up with that shortly as well.

Victoria Sponge Cake

Ingredients

Victoria Sponge ingredients

For the sponge

  • 170g Butter, softened
  • 170g Caster Sugar
  • 170g Self-raising Flour
  • 3 Eggs

For the filling

  • 4tbsps Raspberry Jam
  • Plain Buttercream if desired

Instructions

  1. Start off by preheating your oven to 190 degrees Celsius, and then grease two round 18cm sandwich tins, ideally lining the bases with a circle of waxed paper as well.
    Lining the tins
  2. In a large bowl, place the softened butter and caster sugar. Beat the two together until creamy and pale in colour. Crack the eggs into a small jug and whisk until frothy, before pouring in, bit by bit, into the creamed butter and sugar – beating well between each addition, to prevent curdling. Finally, sift the flour into the batter and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon. Do not beat in the flour as you will take out all the air.
    Creaming up the batter
  3. Divide the mixture equally between the two sandwich tins and spread out well. Place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door until the time is up as this will cause the cakes to sink in the middle. Once the 20 minutes has elapsed and the cakes are looking golden brown on top then open the door and check one by running a fork or skewer into the middle. It’s done when the fork comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to sit in the tin for a few minutes before removing onto a wire cooling rack.
    The baked cakes
  4. Once the cakes have completely cooled, sandwich together with the raspberry jam, and the buttercream if desired. Sprinkle the top with a little extra caster sugar and serve immediately!
    Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria Sponge Cake

Comments

  1. The Wife says

    This was amazing; light and airy and absolutely perfect. For Christmas I’m getting you one of those flour sifter thingamajigs!

  2. says

    I love the old-fashioned scales and I’m not surprised they served you well with this sponge. I buy that brand of jam too and it would be just the perfect choice with this sponge. I love sponge cake and yours looks so yummy and yes, just perfect for a British afternoon tea. Does England ever have good weather? xx

    • says

      Hi Charlie – they’re certainly not convenient if you want to get the weight of something… like say you wanted to find out how heavy a potato was, but to weigh out flour and the like for a cake they’re surprisingly effective :).

      England does have some ok-ish weather sometimes… sadly the weather seems all kinds of screwy right now so I think we’ll need to wait a bit for the next batch of good weather here :D

  3. says

    So was William watching you making this gorgeous cake and couldn’t wait so he started on the table. :) He’s SO cute! This cake looks so light and moist and love the jam AND buttercream! So good!

    • says

      Hi MJ – I just couldn’t get over how cute he is like that… it makes me want to scoop him up and give him a big ol’ cuddle!

  4. says

    Table, no salt or pepper required. He’s so cute! You two must be having the time of your lives and your parents would be in heaven having him there.

    I made my first Victoria sponge last year. It’s really good :)

    • says

      Hehe, absolutely Maureen :). My parents are loving seeing the little guy… they’re going to be SO sad when we leave I think – as are we! :(

  5. says

    Your cake looks so sweet and delicious,but your son is so much sweeter. I really enjoy seeing his sweet and innocent face.

    • says

      Hi Marina – I do like the precision of digital scales, but I really appreciate the “old world charm” of balances… not so keen on measuring in pounds and ounces though. Give me grams any day!

  6. says

    I am not a big cake fan as you know Charles, but this one looks downright delicious to me! It looks so moist and that filling alone is to die for. Mmm! I’m so glad you are enjoying your visit. The photos are great – especially William eating the table. I would love to explore England more one of these days. I was in London for a few days after college and loved it, but I would really like to see the countryside. And I think it’s so cool you got to use that scale – it is just gorgeous! It looks like something you’d see in a store for an outrageous amount of money. So fun! :) Looking forward to more. (And glad you had a great date night too!)

    • says

      Hi Kristy, the English countryside is gorgeous… I do miss it a lot. I’d hoped to take many more photos but it’s hard… the weather was freezing, William was teething and almost any car journey longer than 20 minutes resulted in him wailing so much he started to cough and choke so we had to stop, calm him down, and carry on for a bit, before repeating until we finally got home. The tooth in question has finally cut through now so hopefully the journey back to France should be… slightly easier!

    • says

      Hi Chica, I think it was one of the first things I learnt too… along with some curious cookies called “Bumblies” I think :)

  7. says

    Call me un-American, but I’d choose the Victoria sponge over a pound cake in a heartbeat any day! Looks wonderful, and beautiful scale.

    • says

      Hi Shirley, I must admit I don’t think I ever had a “traditional” pound cake. I should give one a try some day! A good Victoria sponge is fantastic though, I do agree :)

  8. says

    Hey Charles, your sponge cake looks just stunning. You can’t beat the classics. My mouth is now literally watering at the thought of a lovely chunky slice and a cup of strong tea. How very British :)

    • says

      Hehe, thanks Anneli. Speaking of tea, I managed to get some Keemun tea… I haven’t had it in absolutely years! Have you tried it?

  9. says

    Ah, there’s the sponge, and how light looking and pretty it is. It really does look much lighter than our American, or at least southern American pound cake does. Much more open crumb…just delicious looking. And it’s nice to know that young William already has such a broad palette! Glad you’re enjoying the trip, Charles. :)

    • says

      Hi Betsy, I will admit I never tried a pound cake – I should really have a look into making one sometime. A good Victoria Sponge is fab though – so light!

  10. says

    This type of cake is really my favourite, so light and fluffy and that gorgeous pairing with the jam and cream, very beautiful and tasty looking for sure!
    I’m sorry your weather isn’t great, it sucks to have lousy weather on vacation (like ours last fall). But at least you get to spend some wonderful quality time with your parents. And the time William gets to spend with them is something really special. And how generous of your mom to let you cook in her kitchen.
    Now William sure makes that table look delicious!
    I do hope your weather turns around Charles; it’s still darn bitter cold here in Toronto, spring can’t come soon enough.

    • says

      Hi Eva, typically the weather got really nice the last couple of days we were there. At least we got to enjoy a few moments of warm sunshine (although there was still an icy wind at times).

  11. says

    The thing about you having a little boy now.. is that I am shocked when I’ve been away and not visited your blog often enough.. for he is no longer a tiny baby! Where did the time fly and where have I been? William’s a sweetheart! And I love your Sponge (being Canadian and pseudo British) I have fond memories of Sponge but I think my mom may have made us the wannabe version because I don’t remember jam? But lemon curd for some reason??

    • says

      Hi Barb, I know – he’s 10 days off being 8 months old!! I can’t believe it, really I can’t!

      Lemon curd is a common filling in this cake too – it’s pretty good I must say, but you can’t beat jam in my opinion. I’m not that well-versed in other sponges… I really want to make a chiffon cake, and also a génoise, so that’s something I will work on soon.

  12. says

    Oh I love the look of your sponge with the lush red jam and gorgeous cream!! My mum used to make this when I was a child but it has been years since I had a good sponge cake.

    Love the pic of your son eating the table… so cute :)

    • says

      Hi GG – it was so typical, the one I made in England… with the inaccurate balance scales was, apparently, according to my wife, the best sponge cake I’ve ever made. I tried again to make it on Sunday, and what do I end up with? A dense, much more compact cake. Sigh… I can’t win :p

  13. says

    Hello Charles, dont you feed that boy, he has to naw on tables to get that extra fiber in his diet? LOL…Too cute! Love high tea and love this very light and delicate cake is just beautiful. So pretty I could picture that being served in the Peninsula hotel in Kowloon for high tea. Really love that old scale.

    • says

      Hehe, nah, he only gets table for dinner when he’s bad! Normally he can have some real food. As you can see, he must have been very bad indeed on this particular day, hence why he’s eating the table so hungrily :D

  14. says

    Gorgeous! I am usually not a big fan of sponge cakes, but this one looks amazingly attractive. Soft, light and the jam, at first sounding so simple and basic, here seems to be a sophisticated necessary touch to make the cake perfect. I can well see it served with excellent British tea. Congratulations!
    It’s good to hear that in spite of the weather Britons don’t give up such activities as picnics. A car is as good as grass, isn’t it? Especially if there is good potato salad…
    I hope you have had wonderful time with your family.
    PS On certain French markets people still use such scales (not as beautiful though, but the same old method).

    • says

      Hi Sissi – my wife was very impressed. She’s normally not a fan at all of the English sponge cake (probably because I cut corners so much and they’re more dry and compact than they should be). This one really was a wonderful cake, though I tried to make it again on Sunday and it was, once again, compact and dry, even though I tried my best to make it as I did in England :(

      I must say – for me, a car is even *better* than grass. There seem to be bugs *everywhere* in the grass around here and I can’t relax knowing there might be something crawling in my clothes at any moment!

      On the subject of the scales – our pediatrician has a balance-style scale which he uses to weigh babies. That’s what I call old-school! :D

  15. says

    Charles, it’s a beauty! I love a good Victoria sponge. I make mine a little differently, using less batter (but same proportions) in one 7-inch tin and splitting it into two layers, and rather than buttercream I spread a layer of whipped cream over the jam. But I would like yours too! And I love your parents’ scale. In fact, I am coveting it!

    • says

      Hi Jean – I’ve been churning out some real rubbish sponge cakes, so I was delighted that this one turned out so well. It’s definitely something that needs to be eaten quick though. After a day or so it does start to get rather dry and crumbly sadly… in my experience at least.

  16. says

    Charles, you have a way with cakes! I’m sitting here thinking about how I want to make your apple cake (especially after seeing Eva’s version too) and now this — but I don’t currently have an occasion to make one of them for. I guess I just need to organize a dinner party toute suite! Now about that William…who gave him permission to grow up so fast? What a cutie! Glad you were able to sneak in a dinner for two on your travels. Those moments are to be cherished, aren’t they?

    • says

      Hi Barb – ah, it was fantastic, having the dinner together. William seems to have now learned how to crawl (and he can even pull himself up to standing, though soon topples over) and my God he can move fast. He was zooming over the floor to me today, and if he’s next to you, you’d better not look away because if you blink that’s it… he’s off somewhere :D

  17. says

    Wait a minute… that *cannot* be William?! Is he graduating from college next week? The size and depth of personality ;-). Wow. Ça va vite mon ami.

    I have never made sponge cake, though have always liked the idea, and what better place to start than a traditional British recipe. I also happen to be a fan of Bonne Maman jam :). Fun seeing it here. What a photo of the English countryside Charles and the lovely memory of sipping tea as a youngster in the car; my boys love tea too – it’s a wonderful tradition.

    • says

      Hi Kelly, it’s crazy isn’t it? He suddenly seems to be changing. When we went to England he had… I think 2 teeth? He now has 6… they all seem to be pushing through right now, but he’s a little trooper. He cries horribly sometimes – it breaks my heart to hear it because the pain must be unimaginable – but in general he can be calmed quite quickly and will soon be laughing and smiling again. Not only that but since England he can now zoom around on the floor by himself and he can really move once he starts going.

      I was able to get two of my favourite teas in England from Twinings. Keemun and Rose Garden (which used to be called Rose Pouchong). Soooo good! Have you ever tried them?

  18. says

    The picture of your little prince is just precious. Reminds me of the time my daughter was almost two and decided to chew the corner off one of my hardcover books! I still have the book and she giggles at the story that comes with it
    The cake looks super fluffy and moist Charles,nothing short of perfect

    • says

      Hi Sawsan, you made me chuckle. We have a really cute book we read to William and we discovered today that during one of his many crawling adventures, he must have found the book and turned the back cover into a complete mess with his little teeth. It’s all bent and broken now :D

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