A dictionary would describe a Victoria sponge as a cake consisting of two layers of sponge with a thin layer of jam. What could be simpler but when you ever watch series 1 of the great British Bake-Off back in 2010 do you realise how chefs have different approaches and ways of making this iconic sponge. Some wag somewhere reckoned it should be part of a British citizenship test.
One of the classic methods for the Victoria sponge belongs to that doyen of the baking marquee Mary Berry and its just worth repeating that recipe here with our additions.
The overall preparation time is about 30 minutes with a cooking time including the adding of the filling of 40 minutes.
- 4 eggs which have been beaten
- 225g/8oz caster sugar, plus a little extra for dusting the finished cake. The dusting powder can also be icing sugar
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 225g/8oz softened butter at room temperature, with some extra butter to grease the tins
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
The filling can either be raspberry or strawberry jam – about 150g really ought to do it. An extra unctuous filling also includes whipped double cream as well as the jam. We used 100ml of double cream but you can use at least 150ml for a really ridiculous topping. The vanilla extract addition is actually from a Tesco recipe but its not necessary and officianados of this classic sponge would feel quite sniffy about such an added flavouring.
- Pre-heat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C.
- Grease and line 2 x 8 inch (20cm) springform cake tins with non-stick baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream i.e. mix together the butter, vanilla extract if desired and sugar using an electric hand held whisk until light and fluffy.
- Add the lightly beaten egg a tablespoon at a time, beating well between additions, until fully incorporated.
- Carefully fold the flour in using either a large metal spoon or plastic spatula and spoon the batter evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Smooth the batter in the tin with whatever implement you have to hand!
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch. When using a knife or a cake tester it should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes.
- Remove and allow the tins to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out and peeling away the non-stick baking paper. The cake at this point should be a golden brown and have a springy texture.
- If you are using cream anywhere just whip the cream into soft peaks as the cakes cool. Spread the bottom half of the cake with this cream in an even layer.
- Spread the strawberry/raspberry jam evenly and carefully on top of the cream.
- Sandwich the cake with the other half of the cake and transfer it carefully to a serving plate. Dust with the icing sugar and serve.
If you increase the oven temperature to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C you can achieve a baking time of 20 minutes. It does seem to produce a less springy texture but some of us don’t really have a problem with that – it’s cake after all.