The Victoria Sponge – its history and a recipe

Victoria Sponge Recipe

The Victoria Sponge is a sponge cake sandwiched together with raspberry jam and dusted on the top with caster sugar*. It is a quintessential English teatime treat and became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. You will encounter a Victoria Sponge in most tearooms in England. It will be a friendly encounter. I have rarely met a Victoria Sponge I didn’t like.

The ingredients in a traditional Victoria Sponge (sometimes called a Victoria Sandwich) – eggs, flour, sugar, and butter – should be of equal weight; the eggs are weighed in their shell. There are a number of Victoria Sponge variations including using strawberry jam instead of raspberry; adding buttercream or whipped double cream instead of just jam; and dusting the top with icing sugar rather than caster sugar.


History of the Victoria Sponge


It is widely written that the Victoria Sponge was Queen Victoria’s favourite cake.  That may well be true, but I was listening to English food expert Clarissa Dickson Wright on telly the other night and she said that the Victoria Sponge originated at the nursery tea. She explained that afternoon tea cakes in early Victorian days would have consisted of a fruit cake and a seed cake. For safety reasons, it was believed that children should not eat a cake containing pieces of fruit or seeds, so the light, harmless Victoria Sponge was created as their teatime treat. It wasn’t until later that the Victoria Sponge made its way to the adult tea table.


 Finished Victoria Sponge batter Pour batter evenly into prepared tins Cool sponge cakes on wire rack

Buttercream Spread jam on one cake, buttercream on the other, then sandwich together Victoria Sponge

Ever since seeing the cute Victoria Sponge recipe in Betty magazine, I have been wanting to try it and this past week-end was the perfect opportunity. The directions were very straightforward and easy to do, and the cake turned out beautifully. I only had one hiccup with the recipe as written and that is that it yielded way too much buttercream for the cake – and I carelessly used it all. (Mr. Tea says that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.) Next time I will eat the extra buttercream myself halve the amount.


A slice of Victoria Sponge and a cup of tea


Here is a page with the Victoria Sponge recipe in case you’d like to give it a go. Do you have a Victoria Sponge story or recipe you’d like to share?


*An authentic Victoria Sponge, according to The Women’s Institute



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Betty Magazine is just my cup of tea

Tea & Cake Feature from Betty Magazine

It has been a long time since I have been excited about a magazine.  The last magazine I fell in love with was the original Victoria, way back in 1987.  But Victoria was eventually sold and re-published and was never the same.

The good news is that I am once again excited about a magazine – and it’s no Victoria. No, no, far from it. It’s Betty, and I love it.  Betty is fresh and colourful, youthful and fun and (at the moment) virtually free from advertisements. Can I hear a collective, “Yay!” ?


Betty Magazine


Betty Magazine

Betty never really officially launched but instead has been a “natural progression of a hobby” according to the magazine’s founder and editor Charlotte Jacklin. You won’t find any weight loss or diet tips there, they don’t play on people’s insecurities: their philosophy is for people to embrace who they are and celebrate it. When you enter the world of Betty you will find fashion, music, culture, and lifestyle content plus everything in between.

Betty is my new best friend and the best part about that is that I have never had a best friend so much younger than myself! The magazine is clearly designed for girls young enough to be my daughter a different age group than my own, but despite the generation gap, I have found plenty to like about Betty…beginning with the fact that a regular feature of the magazine is called Tea & Cake. Really now, Betty, how could we not become best friends?


Victoria Sponge Recipe, Betty Magazine

But there is much more to Betty besides Tea & Cake. The latest issue contains local Out & About event information; a charming article about falling back in love with the bicycle; an interview with the Vice-President of the Dalston Darlings Women’s Institute (honest!) who have started their own craft parties to ensure that all those lovely things they pin on Pinterest don’t just stay there; easy recipes (including the one above for Victoria Sponge); Life Skills tips (“Dry homegrown herbs in the microwave between sheets of kitchen paper. Put a mugful of water in at the same time to prevent burning.”); hair, fashion and make-up advice; a feature about a graphic designer working on a 365 project entitled Daily Teacup; and lots more – including stylish photographs and enchanting illustrations.

Visit Betty magazine’s website and blog to learn more about their talented team and to meet my new best friend – who has brought Tea & Cake & a breath of fresh air into my life.


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