As the era of Queen Elizabeth II ended in 2022, it seems fitting to commemorate it with a special cake named after her great-grandmother. Queen Victoria had quite a sweet tooth, and this sponge cake made with eggs, sugar, butter, and flour and filled with jam was one of her favorites. It established itself as an iconic teatime treat that has endured since Victorian times throughout the British Isles.
What Is Victoria Sponge Cake?
Let’s get one thing straight before we have arguments; there is no set-in-stone version of this cake! Technically, it is not even a true sponge cake in the classic French tradition since it contains butter, as well as baking soda for leavening. What you need to know is that it is a scrumptious and simple cake, easy to make and very satisfying as an afternoon snack with tea or as a light dessert. Personally, I’d take it for my birthday, but I’d want to have half-birthdays and quarterly birthdays because this is the cake for me, and I don’t want to wait for a special occasion to eat it!
You can find several versions of the cake in the U.K. that range from a simple cake split in half and filled with jam, to more elaborate versions with whipped cream, buttercream, fruit filling, flavored cream fillings, fresh fruit, and any number of fruit jams, from strawberry to mango to pineapple. I love the traditional raspberry jam, but you can play fast and loose with your favorites.
An Unconventional Mixing Method
This version takes the middle road, veering closer to uncomplicated and unfussy. I’ve taken a slightly unconventional route to getting to the finished cake by making it a one-bowl wonder starting with eggs and sugar beaten until thick and light. Fold the flour into the eggs, and then fold in melted butter. This technique aerates the cake with eggs and sugar rather than butter and sugar. A more traditional Victoria sponge approach would be to cream the butter and sugar together first, but here you can be spontaneous and melt the butter instead of having to wait for it to soften.
Finally, I bake the cake in two layer-cake pans so you don’t have to fret about splitting one thick layer in half.
Use All-Purpose or Self-Rising Flour
The recipe here calls for a mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. If you have easy access to self-raising flour, you can substitute the same amount of self-raising flour for the all-purpose flour in the recipe but omit the leavening and salt.
Victoria Sponge Cake Filling
While some Victoria sponges, aka Victoria sandwich cakes are filled with jam only, I think the whipped cream is essential to taking the cake to the next level. Yes, and yum!
- Jam: Raspberry is a favorite but strawberry or any other jam you fancy will also be delicious. It’s up to the baker!
- Cream: Plain and lightly sweetened whipped cream is perfectly fine to use in the filling, but to add stability so the whipped cream holds up longer and to prevent it from weeping, I like to beat it with sour cream or crème fraiche. It adds a subtle tang without changing the character of the cream. If anything, it makes it even more luscious. When whipping cream, the most important thing is to take care not to over whip it. Stop the mixer before the cream is fully whipped and use a few strokes of a whisk to bring it to a fluffy, light consistency.
While it’s best to make the whipped cream filling just before assembling the cake, you can bake and cool the layers, wrap them well in plastic, and store at room temperature for one day. Wrapped in plastic, the layers will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.
Victoria Sponge Cake
For the cake
Butter, for greasing the cake pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see recipe note)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam
Extra powdered sugar for sprinkling
- 2 (8 x 2-inch) round cake pans
- 2 parchment rounds
Prepare the pans and preheat the oven:
Butter two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with 2 circles of parchment paper.
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Whisk the dry ingredients together:
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
Beat the eggs and sugar until light:
In the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggs for 30 seconds. Gradually stream in the sugar, and beat for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until very thick and light in color. Beat in the vanilla.
Fold in the dry ingredients:
Remove the bowl from the stand, if using. With a spatula, one half at a time, fold the flour mixture gently into the batter, fully incorporating it after each addition. Fold in the melted butter.
Bake the layers:
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Rap them on the counter to level them and release any large air bubbles. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, the cake is pale golden brown, and pulls slightly away from the edges of the pan. Set the pans on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Cool the cake:
Slide a knife around the edge of each pan and invert the cakes onto the rack. Peel off the paper, turn the cakes right side up, and cool completely.
Whip the cream for the filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixture with the whisk attachment or with hand-held beaters, whip the cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together just until soft peaks begin to form. To prevent over-whipping, remove the bowl from the stand while the whipped cream is soft and use a few strokes of a wire whisk to finish whipping to soft, slightly firm peaks.
Assemble the cake:
Set a cake layer on a plate with the top facing down. Spread with the jam. Dollop the whipped cream over the jam and carefully spread it to the edges of the cake with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Top with the second layer, this time with the top facing up. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Love jam? Use up to 3/4 cup, but be mindful that it may ooze out of the cake when you slice it.
Slice and serve:
Use a long serrated knife and a sawing motion to cut the cake. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftover cake, lightly covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 33g||42%|
|Saturated Fat 19g||97%|
|Total Carbohydrate 64g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 42g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||10%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|